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The BBC has retained the U.K. broadcast rights for the Olympics through ’20 and the deal is “believed to be worth about” $94M (all figures U.S.), “a ‘modest’ increase on what the corporation pays at the moment but a relatively small increase compared with rises elsewhere in the world,” according to Owen Gibson of the GUARDIAN. In total, it takes the amount “raised by the IOC from its latest round of rights negotiations to more than $1bn in Europe alone.” The IOC was “understood to be concerned about recent cuts to the BBC sports rights budget but entered exclusive negotiations with the corporation after being reassured of its commitment.” The deal is “seen as crucial to maintaining morale” among BBC Sport staffers after the company recently relocated HQs, losing "half of its staff (GUARDIAN, 7/18). In London, Jacquelin Magnay reported that the BBC is understood to "have paid much more" than the $94M it paid for the London Olympic rights. But the BBC had “to fend off rivals who had been in serious discussions with the International Olympic Committee to test the UK Government's protected list of sporting events, which includes all of the Olympic Games.” Sources said that compared to other rights fees the IOC "has extracted around the world, the fee is considered relatively light." The IOC has previously completed ’14 Sochi Games and ’16 Rio Games deals with France for $136M, Germany for $189M, Spain for $104M and Italy for $222M. It has raised $3.6B “across the globe for the next Olympic period, already up on the total raised for the London Games” of $3.9B (London TELEGRAPH, 7/18).
WEIGHING IN: Outgoing BBC General Dir Mark Thompson, who helped negotiate the deal, blogged that the company has “secured one of the last pieces in a portfolio of strategic sports rights which ensure that the BBC remains the UK's most popular sports broadcaster.” The BBC now has “rights arrangements which stretch out for many years and which guarantee that sport will continue to be a central part of the diet of licence-payers across BBC Television, Radio and Online.” Thompson: “So much nonsense has been written about the modern BBC and sport that it's worth spending a moment setting the record straight” (BBC.co.uk, 7/18). IOC VP Thomas Bach said that the U.K. deal “concluded its European rights business for the 2013-16 Olympic cycle comprising of the Sochi and Rio Games” (AP, 7/18).
ESPN will officially make its foray into the late-night television circuit on August 27 with the introduction of "UNite." The entertainment show will air nightly on ESPNU at midnight ET Monday-Friday. The show will be broadcast live from the net’s Bristol, Conn., studios with three hosts touching on subjects from social media and video-driven sports of the day. "UNite" has tapped 35 journalism schools, expanding upon ESPNU’s existing Campus Connection program, as the show’s “School Board” to provide insights from around the college sports scene on breaking news and trending topics (ESPNU). ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY’s Jeff Labrecque noted the hour-long show is “geared towards the college-aged male sports fan.” The hosts have not been named, but "UNite" Coordinating Producer Yaron Deskalo said that at least one “familiar ESPN face” will be on the show. There will be “guests ... a sofa, and a DJ, but nothing else about the late-night paradigm is sacred.” Deskalo said, “Our goals are to be different. We want to create something on television that doesn’t exist anywhere else. I think the main way we’ll be able to find out if we’re successful is how viral we are.” Labrecque wrote "UNite" is “conventional in the sense that it aspires to be a showcase for star talent, but it’s also keen on developing its own.” Deskalo added, “We aren’t necessarily looking for the next 'SportsCenter' anchor. We’re looking almost for the next media star.” The show’s launch date coincides with “students heading back to campus, and more importantly, the kick-off of college football season” (EW.com, 7/18).
Personnel cuts at SI and the Time Inc. Sports Group have "ended with 13 buyouts and 3 layoffs," according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. SI Senior Writers Damon Hack and Michael Farber and college football editor Gene Menez are "among those taking the buyout" offered by the sports group. Hack this week accepted a position with the Golf Channel and Farber will "become a special contributor to the magazine" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/19). ADWEEK's Lucia Moses reported fears that SI’s "photography staff would be decimated appear to be unfounded." The Sports Group did not provide details of the layoffs, but sources said that "one photographer, one reporter and one writer were affected." The company has "described the cost-cutting move as part of a plan to reorganize the editorial staff around type of sports rather than by media platform" (ADWEEK.com, 7/18). In N.Y., Keith Kelly notes some Time Inc. staffers "are worried that the Sports Group cuts might serve as a blueprint for Time Inc. CEO Laura Lang to make other cuts around the nation’s No. 1 magazine publisher later this year" (N.Y. POST, 7/19).
TSN’s “SportsCentre” is “trying to reinvigorate the genre” of the sports-highlights broadcast in Canada, and the show "is a loopier, freer-flowing affair -- with substantially more hockey coverage -- than its bigger American cousin,” ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” according to Will Connors of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. TSN’s show is “wildly popular” in Canada and “SportsCentre” co-anchors Dan O'Toole and Jay Onrait “have become national celebrities” in the country. Producers each summer “take their show on the road, broadcasting from small towns across Canada.” Onrait and O'Toole said that their “inspiration comes from the glory days of the American sports show, along with David Letterman-style late-night routines.” Onrait said, "The biggest comment we get from Americans is, 'This reminds me of SportsCenter from the 90s.'" Connors wrote many comedic stunts "can seem random to the uninitiated,” and “occasionally O'Toole and Onrait are asked to rein in the comedy” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/19).