SBJ/May 30 - June 6, 2011/Olympics

Olympic Bidders: How They Stack Up At The Table

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ABC/ESPN


The Process

Dates: June 6 & 7

Location: Beau Rivage Palace Hotel, Lausanne, Switzerland

Process: Bidding networks have agreed to contractual terms with the IOC. They will be given two hours to make a presentation illustrating how they would present the 2014 and 2016 Games. Then they will submit a sealed bid containing what they are willing to pay for the rights.

Selection: The IOC will determine who wins the rights based on the presentations and the size of the bids.

Attendees:

George Bodenheimer, President
John Skipper, EVP, Content
Rob Simmelkjaer, VP, Corporate Projects

Strengths:
The South Africa Experience: ESPN showed it is more than capable of covering big events during the 2010 World Cup. Its networks aired 64 games live and served up 230 hours of original programming over a month and a half, and the coverage won three Emmys.

Mickey Mouse: Disney, ESPN’s parent company, has expressed interest in becoming part of the IOC’s prestigious TOP program. A licensing deal that puts together the Olympic rings and Mickey Mouse would raise the profile of the Olympics among young people.

Weaknesses:

Bandwidth: ESPN owns more sports rights than any other network. How will it juggle MLB games with 26 sporting events taking place nonstop in Rio de Janeiro in the summer of 2016? Where will it put NBA and NCAA basketball games during Sochi in February 2014?

Mickey Mouse: The five rings are the most important symbol the Olympics have, and the IOC protects them assiduously. Relinquishing control to a global behemoth like Disney could have as much downside as upside.

Fox Sports

Attendees:

David Hill, Chairman
Randy Freer, Co-President
Larry Jones, CFO

Strengths:

Broadcast: Fox owns two broadcast networks in the U.S., which would ensure more over-the-air exposure than ever before for the Olympics. The IOC still values broadcast television above all else.

The Kids Are Alright: Fox has the youngest audience of all U.S. broadcast networks, finishing first in the 18-49 demographic for seven consecutive years. If the IOC wants to reach a new generation, Fox is a good place to be.

Weaknesses:

Bad Bid: IOC members still privately chafe at Fox’s bid in 2003. At $1.3 billion for the 2010 and 2012 Olympics, the bid was seen as a low-ball offer and was never seriously considered.

Homer Simpson: Fox’s brand of irreverent, smash-mouth broadcasting in the United States would make for an uncomfortable marriage with the IOC’s ideals.

Comcast/NBC

Attendees:

Brian Roberts, Chairman and CEO, Comcast
Mark Lazarus, Chairman, NBC Sports Group
Gary Zenkel, President, NBC Olympics

Strengths:

Hello, Old Friend: Dick Ebersol may be gone, but NBC has been a steward for the Olympic brand in the U.S. for more than 20 years. The IOC is comfortable with it and knows many of the producers and executives.

Imagination at Work: GE has agreed to extend its $100 million, four-year sponsorship of the Olympics as part of NBC’s overall bid.

Weaknesses:

Goodbye, Old Friend: Ebersol had deep relationships throughout the IOC, and its members expressed surprise to hear the longtime executive had resigned so abruptly.

Shallow Pockets: Comcast executives have not been shy about telling Wall Street that they will be fiscally prudent when acquiring sports rights. It remains to be seen how this will affect their Olympic bid.

International Olympic Committee

Attendees:

Jacques Rogge, IOC President
Richard Carrión, IOC, Executive Committee
Timo Lumme, Director, TV & Marketing Services
Joe Calabrese, Partner, O’Melveny & Myers

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