SBD/8/Sports Media

NBC TAKES A DOUBLE DIP -- LOCKS UP SALT LAKE, SYDNEY RIGHTS

     NBC was awarded the rights for both the 2000 Summer Games in
Sydney and the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake yesterday in a
combined deal worth $1.27B.  Under the agreement, NBC will pay
$705M to broadcast the Sydney Games and $545M for the Salt Lake
Games, using both its flagship network and cable channels CNBC
and America's Talking in broadcasting the Games.  The network
will also give each city's Olympic Organizing Committee $10M in
promotional considerations and will broadcast a weekly show about
the Olympics, starting the week after the Atlanta Games next year
until the Salt Lake Games (NBC).  ABC and NBC had been discussing
the possibility of a joint deal for the Sydney games, which were
expected to be opened for bidding next month, but "those talks
fell apart last week," according to this morning's WALL STREET
JOURNAL.  Goldman and Simmons report that Disney's acquisition of
ABC "just complicated the issue" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/8).
ABC's Mark Mandell confirmed with the L.A. TIMES last night that
both parties had discussed a deal.  NBC's bid surpassed the
record for Summer Games rights fees by $249M, and surpassed the
Winter record by $170M (L.A. TIMES).
     THE STORY:  NBC officials reportedly put together the bid
last week and gave the IOC until Sunday to accept the deal.  As
part of the negotiations, NBC insisted that their offer was
final, had to be kept confidential, and told the IOC they must
"take it or leave it" by Sunday.  Steve Nidetz reports that IOC
officials "saw little choice but to accept NBC's offer."  IOC
negotiator Dick Pound: "This was a pre-emptive bid on the part of
NBC.  We did not anticipate an offer of this magnitude."  IOC
officials told the other networks of NBC's coup Monday morning.
Most in the industry had anticipated bidding for Sydney to begin
in September, and for Salt Lake in '97.  Pound: "This is kind of
an ad-hoc process, nothing is cast in stone" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE,
8/8).  NBC officials met with IOC members last week for the first
time "triggering days of number-crunching and globe spanning
airline flights by network executives," before yesterday's deal
announcement, Richard Huff reports (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/8).  NBC
Sports President Dick Ebersol: "We believe in sports and we fancy
ourself as the Olympic network in the United States. ... We went
after these things because this is what we believe in as the
boiler plate of NBC's success.  This is not a reaction to other
deals.  This is what we do" ("Sports View," CNBC).
     WHAT ABOUT RUPERT?  Fox's Rupert Murdoch, a native
Australian, was known to be interested in broadcasting the Sydney
Games.  Sources say Murdoch was willing to bid $701M for Sydney,
according to Richard Huff.  However, Huff notes the IOC's
"unwillingness to deal with Murdoch ... led to the deal with
NBC." (DAILY NEWS, 8/8).
     WHY TWO? WHY NOW?  In this morning's WALL STREET JOURNAL,
Goldman and Simmons write that NBC's "pre-emptive strike" sends
"a strong signal that the network still wants to play in the big
leagues in the wake of last week's" mega-media deals.  Goldman
and Simmons add NBC was nervous that Fox "would make a strong bid
...  And now, with Disney's deep pockets behind ABC and ESPN ...
NBC decided it had to make a surgical strike to keep the Olympics
in house" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/8).  In this morning's CHICAGO
TRIBUNE, Steve Nidetz writes that NBC President/CEO Robert Wright
"said the quickly arranged offer was, in large part, a reaction
to the telecommunications deregulation passed last week by
Congress."  Wright: "We see a U.S. market that's going to
gravitate toward pay television.  The congressional bill that was
just passed is an example of that .  It's all about pay
television" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/8).  The L.A. TIMES' Larry
Stewart called the deal "a stunning move," and writes that "it
may have been prompted by the Disney-Cap Cities merger. ... Now
Disney is out of the Olympic picture, at least through 2002"
(L.A. TIMES, 8/8).
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Related Topics:

ABC, ESPN, IOC, NBC, News Corp./Fox, Media, Walt Disney

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