SBD/February 21, 2011/Media

IOC To Consider Proposals For U.S. Olympic Network From Games Bidders

NBC/Comcast, ABC/ESPN and Fox could look into launching an Olympic network
In negotiating U.S. TV rights for the '14 and '16 Games later this year, the IOC “anticipates some bid proposals will include plans to launch a stand-alone 24-hour cable channel in the U.S. that will be devoted to the Olympics,” according to Mickle & Ourand of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The IOC "anticipates the three expected bidders -- NBC/Comcast, ABC/ESPN and Fox -- to look into the feasibility of launching such a network." Sources said that ESPN “has spoken to the IOC about the possibility of a broadband channel, patterned after ESPN3.” IOC Finance Commission Chair Richard Carrión said that the IOC “sees value in a U.S. Olympic television channel because it would make Olympic values relevant in the market year-round.” But Mickle & Ourand note a traditional cable TV network “faces several hurdles, including obtaining carriage on cable and satellite systems that are near capacity.” No new channel launch “over the past several years has approached the 70 million home distribution mark.” The USOC started trying to put together a network as early as '06, eventually “signing the biggest American cable operator, Comcast, as a partner in July 2009.” But that partnership “dissolved in the summer of 2009 after the IOC, NBC and others bashed the partnership.” Creating an Olympic network now “would require USOC approval,” and it “theoretically would be limited to the terms of the broadcast agreement with the IOC, potentially making it viable for a maximum of eight years” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/21 issue).
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Media, IOC, USOC, Fox, ABC, ESPN, NBC, Comcast Corp.

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