Olympic flame to keep burning at NBCU


NBCUniversal overcame challenges by Fox Sports and ESPN/ABC to retain the US television rights to the Olympic Games for 2014, ’16, ’18 and ’20. NBCU submitted the winning bid for the four-Games package, despite losing money with its $2 billion agreement to broadcast the 2010 and ’12 Games.

NBCU will pay $4.382 billion for the four-Games package. That breaks down to $2.001 billion for the 2014-16 cycle and $2.381 billion for the 2018-20 cycle. Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, after participating in the IOC bidding for the first time as the new majority owner of NBCU, told reporters that his company expects the deal to be profitable because NBCU will be able to build up the value of the Olympics assets over a 10-year period with its current contract for 2012 and the new one running through 2020.

The IOC permitted the networks to bid on the US rights to, at minimum, the ’14 and ’16 Games, or a package of four including the 2018 and 2020 Games, even though the host cities have not yet been selected. The 2014 Winter Games will be in Sochi, Russia and the 2016 Summer Games will be in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

IOC officials said two bids were submitted for the four-Games package and one for only two. Since Fox Sports had indicated publically that it would bid for four, which indicates that ESPN/ABC was the one who bid only for the 2014-16 package. Details of the loosing bids were not disclosed, but an IOC official said all were in the ballpark.

“I can say really that the Olympics are in their DNA,” IOC President Jacques Rogge said in praising the NBCU team and their winning bid.