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SBD/Issue 202/Sports Media
IOC Official Expresses Frustration With New USOC TV Network
Published July 9, 2009
|Carrion (l) Feels USOC Proceeding Hastily
With Plans For U.S. Olympic TV Network
CAUGHT IN THE CROSSWIND: In Chicago, Hersh & Bergen report Chicago 2016 could face "possible backlash from a money-related dispute" between the IOC and USOC over the new network. Carrion: "I don't see how this can help." While Chicago 2016 in recent weeks has made an "effort to rebuild support in the wake of a controversy sparked last month" when Chicago Mayor Richard Daley pledged to sign the IOC host-city contract without modifications, the city's chances of landing the '16 Games "faces another potential hurdle because of actions not of its making." Bellingham said, "If this damages the bid, it would be deeply unfortunate, and it is in no way our intention. We are not trying necessarily to advance the Chicago bid, but we believe we are trying to advance the Olympic movement in the U.S." However, Olympic historian Kevin Wamsley said, "I'm sure Chicago is horrified" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/9). USOC acting CEO Stephanie Streeter: "We don't believe this will impact one way or another 2016 Chicago chances" (AROUNDTHERINGS.com, 7/8).
Bellingham Says USOC Has
Right To Use Word Olympic
BACK & FORTH WE GO: Carrion: "They know we have issues. I just find it frankly cavalier on the part of the USOC. It's just vintage USOC." Carrion would not speculate on how the USON would impact U.S. TV rights, but a marketing source suggested that the network "could siphon as much" as $200M per year from the next TV deal, "expected to be negotiated within the next year." But former USOC Chair Peter Ueberroth contends that the USON will be "good business for the U.S. Olympic rights-holder." Ueberroth: "We are confident that the broadcaster who has the Olympic Games will have more revenue and do better because of the U.S. Olympic Network than they have in the past. So we think it will be more profitable for them and thus the IOC and the world's Olympic family" (AROUNDTHERINGS.com, 7/8). Meanwhile, Carrion said Lumme told the USOC "in no uncertain terms the IOC had problems with this and (the USOC) should wait until we sat down with them and discussed this." But Bellingham said that the decision to announce the new network "owed to fear news of the deal signed with Comcast last week would leak out." He added that the USOC also was "concerned delays would impede its efforts to find other cable distributors for the network and to open discussions with advertisers" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/9). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Matthew Futterman cites sources as saying that Comcast "did not want to announce the deal until" the IOC and USOC settled their differences, and Comcast execs "did not participate" in yesterday's conference call. But USOC officials were "intent on making the announcement" at this week's Allen & Co. media retreat in Sun Valley, Idaho (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/9). Ueberroth: "We started this two years ago. Everybody's known this is coming on and so we're not surprising anybody" ("Street Signs," CNBC, 7/8).
Ueberroth Says USOC Prepared To Offer
Equity Interest To Other Cable, Satellite Carriers
TAKING A CLOSER LOOK: UNIVERSAL SPORTS' Alan Abrahamson wrote the mission statement for the USON "centers around nothing less than a far-seeing paradigm shift" -- the revenue model needs to change, and the new network "would be a major step in effecting that change." The challenge for both the USOC and the network, "both near- and long-term, is how -- indeed, whether -- theory lines up with the hard questions that come with the real world." Bellingham: "While we understand there is resistance to change, we think the model -- how revenue is generated, how value is created -- can be improved upon." Abrahamson noted there are a "slew of other real-world questions" stemming from the announcement, including the uncertainty of what the USON will show. Abrahamson: "What's the viewing experience apt to be like? ... Are any of the millions of dollars it would seemingly take to start up a USON going to prove a near-term or even mid-range draw upon the resources available to would-be Olympic athletes?" After yesterday's announcement, there were "more questions than there were immediate answers." However, if "history teaches anything," it is a "bad bet to bet against Peter Ueberroth" (UNIVERSALSPORTS.com, 7/8).
TAKING A STAND: The CHICAGO TRIBUNE's Hersh recently shared a "spirited exchange of emails" with honorary IOC member Hein Verbruggen over the IOC-USOC revenue-sharing dispute. Hersh in an e-mail to Verbruggen said, "Even with a greater global diversity in TOP sponsors, the IOC still depends on U.S. companies and TV networks for more than 50[%] of its revenues. The rights paid by the European Broadcast Union (with a greater total audience than the USA) have been a joke." Verbruggen in response said, "What in heaven is the relevance of the sponsors’ nationality as a criterion for 'rewarding' the NOC of the country? ... It might be U.S. sponsors but the fees are paid BY MANY SUBSIDIARIES in many countries. Most U.S. sponsors invest in TOP for developing their foreign markets" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 7/8).