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Volume 24 No. 112
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Olympic TV Rights Bidders Complete Their Presentations To IOC

ESPN and NBC today both showed up with larger delegations than Fox and arrived early to make their presentations to the IOC. Both networks had the support of their corporate parents. Walt Disney President & CEO Bob Iger and CFO Jay Rasulo were part of ESPN's delegation, and Comcast Chair & CEO Brian Roberts and GE President of Olympic Sponsorships Peter Foss were part of NBC's delegation. ESPN took less time than Fox to make its presentation to the IOC, but ESPN President George Bodenheimer is confident the presentation went well.

The presentation started early and lasted 1 hour and 20 minutes -- 40 minutes less than the two-hour allotment. Afterward, Bodenheimer declined to comment on whether ESPN would bid for two or four Olympics. He said ESPN's plans to offer live coverage of the Olympics, its appeal to young viewers and the support of its parent company, Walt Disney, made its bid strong. Bodenheimer said, "We detailed the ways ESPN and the Walt Disney company can build the Olympics through our vast array of platforms and extensive live coverage. We look forward to placing our formal bid this afternoon."

NBC Sports Group Chair Mark Lazarus said following the net's presentation, "We put our best foot forward and we look forward to hearing from them (the IOC) later. We're very proud of our Olympic heritage." When asked what it was like to present without longtime NBC Sports & Olympics Chair Dick Ebersol, who resigned less than a month ago, Lazarus said, "I've never been there with him. We had a great team of people who put the best foot forward that NBC can with our heritage and legacy." Veteran NBC Olympics host Bob Costas said, "We had a compelling presentation and we hope they felt the same way, and the rest is business." He added that NBC's message was that they had done the Olympics before and wanted to keep doing it.

On the way into NBC's presentation, Foss confirmed that a GE sponsorship would be part of NBC's bid. GE agreed to pay the IOC $200M for a worldwide TOP sponsorship from ‘05-12. Foss: "These are the guys that brought us to the party. We're sticking with them." 

After NBC's presentation, Fox, ESPN and NBC execs congregated in a second-floor room at the IOC headquarters. IOC President Jacques Rogge thanked them for coming and spoke about how important U.S. broadcast rights have been to funding not just the IOC and USOC but also international federations and more than 200 national Olympic committees. He then joked that the IOC had a tough decision to make, saying that after seeing all the bidders presentations, IOC leaders now know all three networks are the No. 1 network in the U.S. He then asked Fox, ESPN and NBC to present their bids in that order. Bodenheimer, Lazarus and Fox CFO Larry Jones dropped their respective bids in a plexiglass box. The IOC began reviewing the bids after the networks left. It hopes to make a decision by 12:00pm ET.


ESPN/ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer Comcast Chair & CEO Brian Roberts
Disney President & CEO Bob Iger NBC Universal President & CEO Steve Burke
ESPN Exec VP/Content John Skipper Comcast CFO Michael Angelakis
ESPN VP/Corporate Projects Rob Simmelkjaer NBC Sports Chair Mark Lazarus
ESPN CFO Christine Driessen NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel
ESPN Senior VP/Content Mike Pearl NBC commentator Bob Costas
ESPN Assistant to the President Arne Rees  
ESPN VP/Communications Mike Soltys