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SBD/Issue 57/Sports Media
Ebersol Discusses Sports Rights On "Squawk Box" Today
Published December 4, 2003
|Ebersol Appears On "Squawk Box"|
NBC Sports and Olympics Chair Dick Ebersol appeared this morning on CNBC's "Squawk Box," which was guest hosted John Hancock Chair David D'Alessandro. Ebersol, on NBC opting out of TV rights to the NFL, NBA and MLB: "With GE's money, we were able to become the first network basically to have everything in big-time sports in the first half of the '90s, up about until 1997. But, with getting that money in good times came the responsibility not to waste it in bad times. With the NFL negotiations in early '98, we could see very, very clearly that the kind of escalations they were looking for were going to have us in a situation where we were going to lose more than $100[M] a year, so we said no. Our involvement with baseball at that point was just their post-season, and we were losing a lot of money, and our entertainment division was annoyed that two weeks after the season started, all their new shows were pre-empted the same problem that the Fox people complain about now with baseball. Basketball is an emotional thing for me; we're dealing with one of my better friends in the world in David Stern. We had a ten-year run of making a lot of money. The last two years we lost a lot. We just decided, 'Hey, unless they want to make a deal with us going forward at break-even, it doesn't make sense to stay in the game.'" Ebersol, on the changing landscape of major league sports on TV: "Look at the last go 'round with the NBA. Basically, all the networks said no, and ESPN, which has the best dual revenue stream of anybody, (with subscriber revenue and advertising revenue) ... they were there to pick it up. I think the better way of looking at this is how much longer we are going to have a lot of major sports on free over-the-air television with only one revenue stream" ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 12/4). For more on Ebersol's "Squawk Box" appearance, see today's Closing Bell. See Leagues & Governing Bodies for MLB President Bob DuPuy's appearance.