The departure of Dick Ebersol as Chairman of NBC Sports Group may have shaken up next week’s bidding for the US TV rights to the 2014 and 2016 Olympic Games. The perception that NBCUniversal may not be as aggressive a bidder without Ebersol has reportedly fired up interest by other US networks.
Sports Business Journal reported that CBS and Turner, who had not been expected to be a serious contender, have gone back to working on their joint bid because of Ebersol’s exit. While new owner Comcast wants NBCUniversal to hold onto the Olympics, it is viewed as being more conservative in what it would be willing to pay – particularly since the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver lost over $220 million for NBCU.
Disney’s ESPN/ABC and News Corporation’s Fox Sports were already expected to be serious bidders to displace NBC as the US outlet for the Olympics. Both have plenty of broadcast and cable platforms in-house, while CBS had teamed with Turner’s cable operations to have a competitive roster of channels to carry multiple Olympic events simultaneously.
RBR-TVBR observation: Will anyone come to the table next week in Switzerland with a $2 billion bid? Just matching what NBCU paid for 2010-2012 may be a stretch after the recent recession. Could the bid price for the Olympics actually go down this time?