IOC Name NBC as US Olympic Rights Holder Until 2020 in USD4.38bn Deal

June 8, 2011

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed yesterday evening that they had decided to award the US broadcasting rights to the next four Olympic Games to incumbent rights holder NBC/Comcast who will pay US$4.38bn for the privilege.

The deal covers the four editions of the Games post London 2012, starting with the Sochi Winter Games in 2014. The first summer Games under the agreement will be the Rio 2016 edition, followed by the Winter Games in 2018 in which Munich, PyeongChang and Annecy are vying for the hosting rights. The decision to bid for the next four Games following on from London 2012 includes the summer 2020 edition, for which the IOC will not decide on a host for another two years.

NBC is understood to have committed to pay $775m for Sochi 2014, $1.226bn for Rio 2016, $963m for the rights to the 2018 Winter Games and $1.418bn for the 2020 Olympics.

The IOC’s decision to award a four Games package to NBC, which has covered every Olympics in the US since 2000 and several before that, came after two days of presentations kicked of by News Corp. owned Fox on Monday, June 6, and Walt Disney’s ESPN yesterday, June 7, morning.

ESPN announced the failure of their bid in the afternoon, stating: We made a disciplined bid that would have brought tremendous value to the Olympics and would have been profitable for our company. To go any further would not have made good business sense for us.

“We wish to congratulate the IOC on a fair and transparent process, and we offer our best wishes to Comcast/NBC. We put our best foot forward with a compelling offer that included the enthusiastic participation of all of The Walt Disney Company’s considerable assets.”

NBC was last up to present their bid yesterday and their chances were not favoured over ESPN having been further thrown into doubt last month by NBC Sports Group chairman Dick Ebersol’s resignation, a key figure in many rights bidding tenders. The company’s takeover by Comcast and a $200 million-plus loss on the Vancouver winter Games last year were also expected to adversely affect their status.

However, IOC President Jacques Rogge confirmed NBC’s reinstatement as rights holder at a press conference yesterday evening, stating: “We are delighted to have reached an agreement with our longstanding partner NBCU.

“We received three excellent bids and would like to thank each broadcaster for their presentations. In the end we were most impressed with NBCU, which not only has a track record for broadcasting the Games that speaks for itself, but also has a clear and innovative vision of where it wants to take the broadcast of the Games between now and 2020. We look forward to continuing to build on our already strong relationship beginning in London next year.”

IOC Executive Board member Richard Carrión, who, along with IOC President Jacques Rogge, led the negotiations, added: “We had an obligation to pick the best bid on behalf of the entire Olympic Movement.

“We assessed each bid against a thorough set of criteria and believe that the long-term nature of this agreement will not only ensure fantastic Olympic broadcast coverage in the US, but also support the long-term financial stability of the Olympic Movement as a whole. NBCU has proven its worth time and again over the years and we’re very excited to continue working with them.”

Brian Roberts, CEO and Chairman, Comcast, parent company of NBCUniversal, concluded: “We are honoured to continue as the US Olympic broadcaster for the remainder of this decade. The vision for our new Comcast-NBCUniversal was to create new platforms and technologies to distribute the very best content. Every two years the Olympic Games provides iconic content for us to deliver on all platforms. We are proud to continue the rich heritage and long association that NBC has had with the IOC and I personally want to thank President Rogge and Richard Carrión for their long-term trust.”