SBD/September 9, 2011/Media

Rogers Will Not Bid For Olympic Broadcast Rights To '14, '16 Games

Rogers lost money on Vancouver Olympics, expects deficit for London Games
Rogers Media Thursday announced it will not pursue a bid for the Canadian broadcast rights to the '14 and '16 Olympic Games as part of Canada's Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium. Under the current agreement, Rogers is a 20% stakeholder within the Consortium, with the remaining 80% interest controlled by CTV. The decision will not affect Rogers' commitment to the '12 London Games (Rogers). The GLOBE & MAIL's Susan Krashinsky notes Rogers' decision "eliminates the country's No. 2 cable sports broadcaster from contention for one of the sporting world's biggest events, and also signals the end of the partnership between Rogers and BCE Inc.'s BCE-T Bell Media unit, which joined forces to broadcast last year's Winter games and next year's Summer Olympics." CTV's former owner, CTVglobemedia Inc., and Rogers bid "a record $153-million (U.S.) for the rights to the Vancouver and London 2012 Summer Games." Krashinsky notes the larger part of that bid -- $90M -- was for the '10 Vancouver Games, "since the prospect of an Olympics on home soil was so valuable for broadcasters" in Canada. But Rogers and CTV "actually lost money on the Games, and expect to lose money on the London broadcast as well."  Rogers Media President Keith Pelley said, "The business model was a factor going forward." This marks a "change of strategy for Rogers, which had previously planned to bid alongside CTV for the next two Games." Electing not to invest in the Games "frees up Rogers' budget to spend on TV rights to other sports events in an environment where the price of those rights is mounting." Krashinsky notes there was "another concern at play as well: With Rogers' status as minority partner in the consortium, its brand was not front-and-centre as the Olympic broadcaster the way CTV's was" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/9). Pelley said that he "crunched the numbers associated with bidding on and broadcasting" the '14 and '16 Games, and "decided it didn't add up to smart business, even with the consortium to help defray the costs" (TORONTO STAR, 9/9). 

INT'L INTRIGUE: The FINANCIAL POST's Jamie Sturgeon noted Rogers partnered with the CBC to broadcast the '11 FIFA Women's World Cup, and is "pushing now to obtain more overseas professional sports content such as soccer and cricket." Pelley is "launching this fall a Sportsnet offshoot channel expressly committed to those sports." He said, "We'll have more announcements in the coming weeks with a couple of big properties we've secured" (FINANCIALPOST.com, 9/8). Rogers said that its channels are "full of Blue Jays and tennis coverage at the time the Summer Olympics are staged and hockey when the Winter Games are on." Until Rogers "can get more channel space, it will stay out of the competition" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/9).
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