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Friday, June 6
$2.201 billion bid beats competitors

Associated Press

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- NBC will remain America's Olympic network for at least nine more years.

Already holding the U.S. rights to five Olympics from 2000 to 2008, NBC secured the contracts for the 2010 and 2012 games Friday for $2.201 billion.

NBC, owned by General Electric, beat bids from ABC and Fox.

The business of big-time American sports has gotten out of hand. That is not true of the Olympics.
NBC's Dick Ebersol

The decision was announced after nearly seven hours of deliberations by an IOC panel headed by president Jacques Rogge.

"They were obviously the best bid in terms of the audience, the platforms, the reach and the financial aspect," Rogge said.

The previous contract, worth $3.5 billion, was reached in a pair of secret deals in 1995. This time, the IOC made it a competitive bidding process.

Rogge declined to say how much ABC and Fox bid. ABC and Fox also declined to disclose the value of their bids. Fox indicated that its bid was substantially lower than NBC's.

Under the package, NBC will pay $2.001 billion in direct rights for the two Olympics: $820 million for the 2010 Winter Games and $1.181 billion for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

"The business of big-time American sports has gotten out of hand. That is not true of the Olympics," NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol said. "It's not just a sporting event. It's a family event, and it makes itself extremely attractive to advertisers, to affiliates, to our own stations."

The rights were awarded before the selection of the two host cities. The 2010 games will be awarded on July 2, and the 2012 summer host picked in 2005.

As part of the deal, General Electric will also pay from $160 million to $200 million to be part of the IOC's global TOP sponsorship program for the two games period.

Under other terms, NBC will pay $12 million in fees for the U.S. Olympic trials and $10 million for development of a digital TV library and archiving system. The network also made a commitment to promote the Olympics between and during the games.

The total price tag represents a 32.6 percent increase over the $1.5 billion NBC paid for the 2006 Winter Games and 2008 Summer Olympics.

The IOC said it was looking for the network that offered the best overall package, not necessarily the most money. The rights package includes broadcast, cable, Internet, video-on-demand, pay-per-view and other services.

CBS pulled out of the bidding Monday, saying it wasn't ready to commit so much money to an event so far in advance. AOL Time Warner withdrew last month, saying it didn't meet IOC requirements.

TV rights fees provide the bulk of the IOC's revenue, with the U.S. share accounting for about 60 percent of the total. About half the money goes to host cities, with the rest split among the IOC, international federations and national Olympic committees.

The U.S. Olympic Committee gets a 12.75 percent cut of the rights fees.

The Olympics are considered the top prize in sports television, with networks virtually guaranteed 17 straight days of top ratings and huge advertising revenues.

The networks were expecting either the 2010 or 2012 games will be staged in North America, offering the best time zone for live, prime time coverage.

Vancouver is competing against Salzburg, Austria, and Pyeonchang, South Korea, for the 2010 Winter Games. New York is among the candidates for 2012, along with London, Paris, Madrid and other cities.

If Vancouver wins, Europe will be favored to land the 2012 games. If Vancouver loses, New York and Toronto will be strong North American contenders.

The networks count on making a profit from the Olympics. NBC made $75 million from the 2002 Salt Lake Games.

Despite the slump in the world economy, the networks pushed the IOC to go forward with the bids now, citing a strong ad sales market.

After completing presentations to the IOC, the three media companies submitted their financial bids in sealed envelopes into a ballot box engraved with the Olympic rings.

Rogge and a small group of experts began examining the offers at around 3:10 p.m. local time. More than seven hours later, the decision was announced.

Considering the sluggish economy, uncertainties of future technologies and the unknown location of the games, Fox made a "fiscally prudent" bid that "reflected a conservative view," Fox Sports chairman and CEO David Hill said.

ABC dominated Olympic coverage in the 1970s and '80s but hasn't broadcast the games since 1988.

"We really do feel there is a legacy at ABC, and we would love to be back in the game," ABC executive vice president Dick Glover said. "We gave it our best shot. We would be happy to be back next time."

NBC had been considered a favorite because of its status as incumbent and long-term partner of the IOC.

"The Olympics are in the blood of everybody who works at NBC Sports or NBC Olympics," Ebersol said.

Ebersol pointed out that NBC has won a Sports Emmy for best event coverage at its last five Olympics, including a total of 17 awards for the 2002 Winter Games.

Ebersol presented the IOC with NBC's Emmy for best live event coverage from Salt Lake. Rogge said he would display it in the Olympic museum in Lausanne.

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