POSTED: May 5th 2010

American Olympic broadcast rights bidding heats up as Fox looks to jump in

NBC holds the US TV and internet rights through London 2012 - US skaters Ben Agosto, Tanith Belbin / NBC Photo: Justin Lubin
NBC holds the US TV and internet rights through London 2012 - US skaters Ben Agosto, Tanith Belbin / NBC Photo: Justin Lubin

LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications

TAMPA, May 5: Fox Network sports chief David Hill says it is serious about stepping into the ring to bid for television and internet rights to transmit the Sochi 2014 Winter and Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games in the United States.

In an interview with Variety the FOX sports leader says he hopes the International Olympic Committee will open bidding in October or November of this year. Fox threw its hat into the ring last time around for Vancouver 2010 and London 2012 but longtime winner NBC Universal submitted the top bid.

NBC and its parent company General Electric won with approximately US$2.2bn for the combined 2010 and 2012 Games rights, topping by a long stretch the bids submitted by ABC and ESPN at US$1.6bn and Fox’s own bid at US$1.3bn.

NBC recently announced that it lost US$223m on the Vancouver Games in the first quarter of this year. Despite this, other networks are ramping up their plans to submit competitive bids to the IOC when they open the bidding.

NBC recently merged with Comcast but completion awaits approval after a US Justice Department review. The Federal Communications Commission is expected to take on an outside expert to review the merger.

In the bid race for American TV rights Fox may find the ABC/ESPN combination one of the toughest ones to top. ESPN cable is making a splash internationally by transmitting one of England’s six Premier League soccer packages in the UK. ESPN has also bought the US rights to soccer's 2010 World Cup finals in June/July.

Olympic TV rights are a major investment but the figures fade compared with the recent 14-year NCAA basketball tournament deal for which CBS and Turner teamed up to snatch at a whopping US$10.8bn. Other Olympic bidders should beware as ABC and ESPN lost on that round so their budgets are full to ante up a hefty Games bid.

Keywords · FOX · NBC · Olympics · Sochi 2014 · Rio 2016

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