Waiting for the Olympics decision


Fox Sports, NBCUniversal and ESPN/ABC have all made their pitches to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Switzerland. Now we await an announcement from IOC President Jacques Rogge of the winning bid for the 2014 and 2016 Olympic Games (and possibly more).

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. Fox had indicated that it would bid for all four. NBCU and ESPN/ABC did not disclose their strategies. None has indicated how much money they are bidding.

NBCU paid $2 billion for the 2010 and 2012 Games. It lost over $220 million on the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada and is expecting to top that red ink with the 2012 Summer Games in London, UK. Even so, the IOC is hoping to match or top that $2 billion in the current round of bidding. If a four-Olympics package is sold the price tag could be in the $4-5 billion range.

At least, that’s what the IOC is hoping for. Fox bid only $1.3 billion last time around. New owner Comcast is believed to be more insistent that NBCU not lose money on the next package, although it would like to hold onto the Olympics franchise in the US.