WAS IOC LOOKING TO PROTECT TV PARTNERS IN IBM BREAKUP?
There's "more than meets the eye" to the IOC's "failed
talks" with IBM over a new eight-year sponsorship deal,
according to Josh Rubin of the TORONTO STAR. IBM, which has
been a major Olympic sponsor since 1960, "figured being the
technical supplier and a major sponsor" to the IOC, which
would give it the rights to handle official Olympic Web
sites. But the IOC wanted to package out those rights
separately, at the same time breaking up IBM's technological
"hold" on the Olympics by "going with different suppliers
for hardware and software." The IOC "felt threatened," due
to IBM's "natural instinct when it comes to Web design ...
to push the envelope, taking advantage of any improvement in
delivery of text, video and audio." Rubin reports that
"none of these Internet advances would be helpful to TV
broadcasters" and that it would be "extraordinarily
difficult for the IOC to slap [IBM] down if it pushed the
envelope too hard for the broadcaster's liking. A multi-
billion-dollar gorilla can do what it wants to do with its
Web site." IOC VP Richard Pound said that with TV rights
sold through 2008, "we've got to make sure we don't do
anything which would harm the rightsholders." Eventually,
TV rightsholders could be licensed to run video and audio on
their own, or, as Pound suggests, "pay a few extra dollars"
to "produce the official Olympic site" (TORONTO STAR, 8/19).