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IOC President Thomas Bach yesterday said the governing body decided to sign a long-term extension with NBC rather than sell its Olympic rights on the open market because it trusts the broadcaster and felt the deal offered financial stability for the next two decades. His comments came shortly after the IOC and NBC Sports finalized a $7.65B deal for the ’22-32 Olympics. The deal represents a 15% increase on average for each Olympic Games from NBC’s current agreement, a $4.38B deal for the ’14-20 Olympics. However, the increase is below that seen by many major sports properties in the U.S., which have been closer to 40%. Bach said that was not the main issue for the IOC. Olympic officials noted that NBC in '11 outbid its closest competitors, Fox and ESPN, for the Olympic rights by more than $1B. Bach said, “This kind of deal is not only about money. Maybe in one deal you can have one or more dollars more and have your product destroyed. We are thinking long term in the IOC. ... The balance has to be there between the protection of the Games, the promotion of our values and financial consideration.” Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said that deal ensured NBC would continue to build on its successful broadcasts of the ’12 London and ’14 Sochi Games, which were the first to take place under Comcast ownership. He noted that both of those events were “profitable.”
PLANNING FOR AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir in a front-page piece writes the agreement "captures just how technologically frenetic the media landscape is." Such deals once "had to contemplate only television, but smartphones and tablets have become an increasingly large segment of the viewing audience, and no one can guess how people will watch sports" in '32. The new Olympic contract "acknowledges this, stipulating that NBC will have the exclusive rights to broadcast the Games on whatever technology emerges between now and then." Comcast is "wagering that it will continue to profit from the Olympics however technology develops -- and that consumers will not flee in droves from the bundle of channels that cable, satellite and telephone companies rely upon for revenue." RBC Capital Markets Managing Dir David Bank: "One of the risks would be bundle-busting," He said the Olympic deal "is a brilliant defensive move but profitability is harder to determine because you don’t know what the ecosystem will be." More than ever, Comcast and NBC execs "see the Olympics as part of the company’s programming foundation." Horizon Media Research Dir Brad Adgate: "NBC’s probably going to win its first season in 10 years in adults 18 to 49, and the Olympics played a part in it" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/8).
OUT OF NOWHERE: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Matthew Futterman writes the deal "shocked sports media analysts, who have grown used to the unprecedented rights agreements of recent years." Former CBS Sports President Neal Pilson said that the deal "represented an insurance policy against economic downturns or political unrest that could threaten the Games." There is a "white-hot market for major sports rights in the U.S. these days." Nearly every major league or sports association "has announced new, long-term media rights agreements that roughly double their current fees." However, since NBC outbid the other U.S. networks by about $1B in the most recent auction, it is "possible the IOC feared an absence of a competitive market and made the best deal it thought it could" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/8). USA TODAY's Nancy Armour writes NBC is "easily the largest of any of the IOC's broadcast partners, and that money helps keep the Olympic movement afloat." Bach said that some of the money "will be used to help pay for future games ... as well as providing funds to national organizing committees and international sports federations." Given NBC's "largesse and that of other big U.S. sponsors like Coca-Cola, Visa and McDonald's, critics have said it's time the IOC does something for the United States." The USOC is considering a bid for the '24 Summer Olympics, and Chair Larry Probst hopes that it will "make a decision by the end of the year" (USA TODAY, 5/8). REUTERS' Karolos Grohmann noted Dallas, L.A. and Boston "are among a list of cities interested in bidding for the Games with the IOC opening bidding next year and a decision to be taken" in '17 (REUTERS, 5/7). FORBES' Tom Van Riper noted NBC "has wrapped itself in Olympics more closely over the past two decades as it’s scaled back on other sports," notably MLB and the NBA, "big properties that played major roles in its past." While NBC does carry the NFL and NHL, the net's "sports identity these days is mostly tied to the Olympic rings" (FORBES.com, 5/7).
The storylines leading into tonight's NFL Draft are "expected to provide a nice viewership bump" for ESPN and NFL Network, according to Richard Deitsch of SI.com. The audience figure also will "be aided by the event moving back two weeks from its usual start date." The two nets have again "come together for a gentleman's agreement on the subject of tipping draft picks," which "carries through at least the first two rounds." ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer Seth Markman said reporter Adam Schefter will "tweet potential trade talk, inside draft room rumblings, and added perspective to complement, not spoil, the broadcast." Deitsch noted each net has "made changes in personnel for live coverage." Meanwhile, Markman said that ESPN will "have subtle changes this year on Days 2 and 3." The coverage will "focus less on big picture topics and more on the pick by pick selections." Asked whether ESPN's Trey Wingo will eventually be the Day One host of the net's Draft coverage, Markman said, "We have never had any discussions about who will replace Chris Berman when he decides he does not want to do this anymore. ... Chris has earned the right to decide when he wants to step away from this. If and when Chris decides he wants to scale back ... Trey would definitely be in the discussion" (SI.com, 5/4). The Chicago Tribune's Ed Sherman on his Twitter feed noted CBS' Jason La Canfora will "tweet out picks again" during the Draft (TWITTER.com, 5/8).
BEHIND THE SCENES: The Giants on Monday confirmed that they will allow a war room camera for NFL Net's coverage, the first time they have allowed this in franchise history. NFL Net will now have a record-high 16 war room cameras, representing half of the league's teams (THE DAILY). In Dallas, Barry Horn reported ESPN will "have reporters with six teams, none of which are the Cowboys." The net's Ed Werder "will be dispatched to Houston where the Texans have the draft’s first pick." NFL Net "will have Desmond Purnell with the Cowboys" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/3).
SPECIAL GUESTS: FSU football coach Jimbo Fisher will be part of NFL Net's weekend draft coverage. He will appear live on the net's "NFL Draft Pre-Show" at 5:30pm ET tomorrow and on NFL.com's Draft Xtra from 8:00-9:00pm. Fisher on Saturday from 3:00-5:00pm will be on NFL Net with Rich Eisen, Charles Davis, Daniel Jeremiah and Mike Mayock (THE DAILY). SPORTING NEWS' Mark Burns reported Draft prospect Michael Sam, who in February came out as gay, has "declined both ESPN/NFL Network's efforts to get a camera w/ him during draft days" (TWITTER.com, 5/6).
HUT, HUT, HYPE! USA TODAY's Christine Brennan writes, "Leave it to the NFL to figure out what Americans want -- and give it to us. Our love of everything related to football knows no bounds. I wouldn't be surprised if viewership for the draft easily beats the NBA playoffs on Thursday night. Real live sports don't stand a chance against a desk full of announcers discussing the NFL. What does that say about us? It says we can't live without football, which explains why the NFL is slowly but surely taking over the sports calendar -- nearly all 12 months of it" (USA TODAY, 5/8). In South Carolina, Tim Dominick wrote we are close to Football Non-Events "outnumbering actual events -- such as games." We know all the Draft hype is "about TV," and if you "are a sports fan not the least bit interested in the NFL draft, then there has been no reason to tune in for ESPN’s SportsCenter the past couple of months." What ESPN "does not tell you about its draft coverage is that it is pretty meaningless" (Columbia STATE, 5/3). In Tampa, Gary Shelton writes, "If you back away and look at it from a distance, it's amazing the draft has grown so big. Hope sells, one supposes. Enough that the draft has become a three-day miniseries (and it might go to four) where human bobbleheads chatter incessantly." He asks, "So why do we watch? Other than the fact The Big Bang Theory is a repeat? ... We watch because we like young players on the rise. We watch because, every now and then, Chris Berman stops talking" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 5/8).
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON: In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote former NFLer Chris Simms has taken a role at Bleacher Report, where "he is the self-proclaimed 'poor man's GM.'" Those who watch him carefully have said that Simms is "as good as any Draft guru currently working on television." His current role will "play well for him if he ever lands in an NFL TV booth, a place he wants to be." Simms is also aware that it is "perceived he is having doors open for him" because his father, Phil Simms, is CBS’ No. 1 NFL analyst. Chris Simms last season "did his first Pac-12 college football broadcast for Fox," and the net "asked him back" for the '14 season. But Simms had "already made up his mind" that college football "is not for him." Simms: "(Working a college football game) is an incredible waste of my knowledge. It’s just not as stimulating to me. The NFL is what I grew up in. It’s what I’ve always known." Simms recently taped "a segment for CBS' NFL Draft show" alongside his father (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/4).
SOCIAL SELECTIONS: Google and the NFLPA are collaborating to offer live, digital press conferences via Google+ Hangouts. Throughout the three-day Draft, 20 draft picks will participate in individual #MyDraftDay Hangouts shortly following their selection (NFLPA). Data from Facebook shows that QB Johnny Manziel was the most- mentioned Draft prospect on Facebook from April 28-May 5. The data is based on an aggregated list of the top 200 prospects. The top five most mentioned prospects were rounded out by WR Sammy Watkins, WR Mike Evans, QB Derek Carr and LB Khalil Mack. Manziel had twice the buzz of any other player (THE DAILY).
NBCUniversal yesterday named ESPN VP/Original Programming & Production Jamie Horowitz Senior VP & GM of the "Today" show, as the "arms race in morning television continued," according to Bill Carter of the N.Y. TIMES. Horowitz "will oversee all aspects of 'Today,' the three separate morning shows with that title, the digital site, the concert series in Rockefeller Plaza and interactions with sponsors and advertisers." He "will not join NBC until Dec. 1," as that "delayed start was apparently ABC’s demand in exchange for allowing him to leave a contract early." Horowitz said that he "was not seeking to leave ESPN, but when NBC approached him he was attracted by the history of 'Today.'" He noted that he "started his career working on Olympics coverage for NBC" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/8). DEADLINE.com's Lisa De Moraes noted Horowitz at ESPN oversaw a "number of successful shows," including "First Take", "Olbermann," "Numbers Never Lie," "SportsNation" and World Series of Poker programming (DEADLINE.com, 5/7). In N.Y., Claire Atkinson cites sources as saying that Horowitz "was part of a corporate tug-of-war ... that had NBCUniversal giving up some assets in order to get him out of a contract that still had two years on it." Horowitz is the third Disney employee to join NBCU in the past six months (N.Y. POST, 5/8).