SBJ/March 12 - 18, 2007/This Weeks News

NGBs want to narrow USOC rights deal

Twelve national governing bodies have collaborated to change a contract proposed by the U.S. Olympic Committee that sought NGB assets for Internet and television broadcasts.

The groups, which were concerned about the sweeping language of the original contract, shared a revised draft with the USOC two weeks ago.

“We’re excited about the concept,” said David Askinas, the CEO of USA Taekwondo who drew up the new draft, “but we’d just like to narrow what’s expected of everybody.”

The amended version requires that the USOC produce a minimum, yet-to-be-determined number of NGB events each year and pay for all production costs. It also eliminates language that gave the USOC sole commercial rights to the NGBs’ sports content, which would have allowed the USOC to sell sponsorships for NGB-sanctioned events.

When the contract was first shared with the NGBs in January, several of them found that language contradictory. While they could still sell presenting sponsorships for events like the wrestling national championships, they had to agree that those sponsors might not be featured during a broadcast.

“If we were to give away everything they asked for,” one NGB executive said, “we’d have nothing left to offer on our own.”

The new draft protects some of the NGBs’ marketing rights by allowing them to sell signage for those events and have that signage appear during USOC broadcasts.

The NGBs also raised the price that the USOC would have to pay for the rights to their sporting events, shifting the price from $72,000 to $80,000 from 2007-08 and from $75,000 to $125,000 from 2009-12.

Other minor changes require that the USOC agree to let NGBs work with another broadcast partner if the USOC declines to air one of their events.

The USOC hopes to develop a new Web portal featuring its NGBs by August, one year out from Beijing 2008. The site would be similar to MLB.com and feature news stories, blogs, streaming video and links to governing body sites.

Askinas said the NGBs remain excited about the decision to undertake that project and that their new draft was well-received by the USOC.

“This is not a battle royale,” Askinas said. “It’s a new idea and a new concept and we just want to get it right from the start.”

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