US Olympic Broadcast Rights to be Settled by Mid-June

April 8, 2011

A new and improved US broadcast deal is predicted to be in place by mid-June by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), according to the body’s chief rights negotiator Richard Carrion.

Having postponed the US rights negotiations for more than a year due to the economic climate, the IOC is now making moves to reach an agreement in its most important market.

The US deal accounts for over half the IOC’s TV rights revenue, the body’s majority revenue stream with incumbent rights holder NBC, along with Fox and ESPN, expected to battle it out.

Carrion stated that he expects “probably three” networks to enter negotiations, revealing that he had held preliminary talks with all interested networks, adding the bidding contract documents are being finalised.

“The process should take six, seven weeks,” the head of the IOC’s finance commission told The Associated Press. “We’ll probably crank it up in May.”

The rights to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro are on the table, but Carrion has conceded that a mega-money bid for the next four editions is still a possibility.

He added: “Obviously this is about ’14 and ’16, but if a bidder wants to make a longer-term commitment and a longer-term deal, we are willing to look at that. These are always trade-offs that you make. It will be a minimum of two (Games), but it could turn out somebody makes a very compelling bid for four and we take it.”

The 2010-12 US Olympic broadcast contract with NBC is estimated to be worth around US$2bn, while parent company General Electric’s global sponsorship increased that figure by $200m. Stating that he expects those figures to be exceeded, Carrion added: “This is a unique product. This is a unique event. These guys are serious. They’re professionals. They’ll do their numbers. Hopefully, we’ll have a good result that will be good for both sides.”

Meanwhile, Carrion has hailed the new era of improved relations the IOC enjoys with the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) amid talks over the thorny issue of a new revenue-sharing agreement.

With the USOC currently receiving 20 per cent of global sponsorship revenues and 12.75 per cent of US broadcast rights deals, talks are underway for a new deal to take effect from 2020 amid international disquiet over the current status quo.

The issue, allied to USOC’s ultimately aborted attempt to establish an Olympic Network, served to strain ties between the two bodies, but Carrion hailed the approach taken by the current USOC administration.

“I was not timid in the past to let know my feelings,” Carrion said. “I think they’re making a great, great effort. I think the relationship is very, very much improved. There’s a desire to get things done.” He added: “There’s a needle that still needs to get threaded. Everybody has their own point of view. But I can tell you the tone of the meetings is 100 per cent better.”