UPDATE, 12:00 PM: NBC says it paid $4.38 billion for the four Olympics matches. But the network won because NBC’s track record with the games “speaks for itself” and the company “has a clear and innovative vision of where it wants to take the broadcast of the Games between now and 2020,” International Olympics Committee President Jacques Rogge says. Investors initially appear to be satisfied with the price that Comcast authorized NBC to pay. Even if the network loses money “we continue to see the Olympics as less of a financial decision and more of a strategic and branding initiative” for NBC, Wells Fargo Securities analyst Marci Ryvicker says. Comcast expects the Olympics to help stabilize NBC, which the cable company has vowed to revive. In addition. Comcast plans to use the games to beef up its cable networks Versus and The Golf Channel.
PREVIOUS, 10:00 AM: Deadline has now confirmed that NBC has retained the U.S. Olympic television rights in a 4-games deal through 2020. The AP was first to report the news out of Lausanne where the International Olympics Committee is meeting and puts the bidding number at “worth more than $4 billion” — which is $1 billion less than expected. The decision has not yet been officially announced by the International Olympic Committee, but NBC is acknowledging it won a 3-way bidding contest against ESPN and Fox. It will have exclusive rights to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, as well as the 2018 Winter Games and 2020 Olympics, whose sites have not yet been chosen. NBC has broadcast every Summer Olympics since 1988 and every Winter Games since 2002.
Executives from NBC, ESPN and Fox submitted sealed envelopes into a see-through plexiglass box, then left the building to let IOC officials open them and consider the offers in private for the first U.S. rights auction for the Olympics since 2003. All three networks kept emphasizing in their presentations that the Olympics would be presented live, something which NBC has come under fire for because of all the tape-delaying of the games to air during primetime in recent years. Here’s hoping that NBC changes its ways without Dick Ebersol at the helm. That said, the NBC win is going to help Comcast’s long-range plans to make its sports network into a juggernaut able to challenge both ESPN and Fox Sports.
NBC’s presentation to the IOC included new Comcast owners Steve Burke and Brian Roberts. Missing, of course, was longtime NBC sports czar Dick Ebersol who resigned last month after butting heads with Comcast. But the 17-member NBC delegation included mainstay Olympics host Bob Costas. “My message was we’ve done it well and we’d like to do it again,” he said from Lausanne. (more…)