SBD/February 17, 2011/Media

NBCU Coy On Whether It Will Bid On TV Rights To '14, '16 Olympics

Burke says NBCU will focus on properties that are good business decisions
NBC Universal President & CEO Steve Burke yesterday "declined to confirm whether the broadcast unit would throw down the requisite billions to ensure its reign as the home to the Winter and Summer Games" by securing U.S. TV rights to the '14 Sochi and '16 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, according to Anthony Crupi of ADWEEK. Discussing NBC's sports properties during Comcast's Q4 earnings call, Burke said, "We're here to make money, and we're going to be disciplined. We're going to concentrate on businesses that have good returns." Crupi noted complicating matters for NBC "are rival nets ESPN and Fox, both of which also plan to make a run at the 2014/2016 rights bundle," and "naturally, the more bids there are on the table, the greater the cost of securing the games." On the same call, Comcast Chair & CEO Brian Roberts "dismissed speculation" that the merged organization "would look to unseat" ESPN. Roberts: "I don't really see that as a realistic thing." He added that they "will instead concentrate on exploring synergies between the various NBC Sports assets and Comcast cable channels Versus and Golf Channel." Roberts: "We have a long-term opportunity to do some big things with these brands (ADWEEK.com, 2/16). Roberts said of NBC Sports and other NBCU sports properties, "We are going to bring it to another level where it has never been before" (VARIETY.com, 2/16). In L.A., Meg James noted negations for U.S. rights to the '14 and '16 Games are "expected to begin in a few months, and NBC has long outdistanced its rivals." But NBC "lost more than $220 million on its broadcast" of the '10 Vancouver Olympics, and Comcast "doesn't appear to be as willing to bid for the games at any cost" (LATIMES.com, 2/16).

QUITE A QUARTER
: In Philadelphia, Bob Fernandez reports Comcast's profit "bloomed to more than $1 billion" in Q4 '10, prompting Roberts to "declare that the cable giant's businesses performed well on all fronts." The financial performance of NBCU "was not contained in Comcast's earnings report because the deal closed after the first of the year." Burke said that the "greatest potential benefit in the NBCU deal was reviving the NBC broadcast-TV network, but that doing so would take several years" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 2/17).
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