ESPN and Olympic Broadcast Execs to Meet in Madrid

March 9, 2011

Top ESPN production executives are scheduled to meet with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) broadcasting executives in Madrid today, March 9, the latest signal that ESPN is interested in bidding for the ’14 Sochi Winter Games and ’16 Rio de Janeiro Games.

ESPN Vice-President of International Development Rob Simmelkjaer, the net’s point person on the Olympic bid, Senior Vice-President of Content Mike Pearl and Coordinating Producer Bill Bonnell are making the trip in an effort to demonstrate that ESPN can handle the Olympic Games and to discuss what their production plans would be.

ESPN’s pitch centres around televising the Games in real time rather than on a delay. Pearl brings a lot of Olympic production experience to the table, having worked on six Olympics, including as Executive Producer for three on CBS and ABC.

Sources have said that Fox and NBC also have gone through similar meetings. The ESPN delegation is meeting with Olympic Broadcasting Services Managing Director & CEO Manolo Romero and IOC Vice-President Television & Audiovisual Rights Vincent Chupin.

IOC Finance Commission Chair Richard Carrion, the organization’s lead negotiator for the broadcast rights, has said that the IOC hopes to have finalized a deal by July.

It historically has hosted negotiations near its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. The IOC is definitely accepting bids on the ’14 and ’16 Games; it is considering expanding the bidding process to include the ’18 and ’20 Games as well.