NBC Bids Billions And Retains Olympic TV Franchise

Jun 7, 2011

NBC beat out rivals Fox and ABC/ESPN Tuesday to win yet again the gold medal franchise in sports broadcasting.

And it cost the veteran Olympic broadcaster an average of $1 billion dollars an Olympics for the four winter and summer games from 2014 through 2020.

That's a record deal for the exclusive American rights to the Olympics and came despite NBC's loss of legendary Olympic producer Dick Ebersol in a contract dispute. It also came despite the seeming reticence of new NBC owner Comcast in the wake of a deficit of more than $200 million after last year's Vancouver Winter Games. A similar deficit is projected for next year's summer games in London.

Details of the deal and reaction from NBC, Comcast and the International Olympic Committee, are expected in a news conference beginning at 2 p.m. ET.

Fox and ABC/ESPN promised live coverage of all Olympic competition, striking at a common complaint about NBC's tape-delayed coverage.

NBC was the last to pitch its bid in closed-door meeting with IOC officials in Lausanne, Switzerland. An NBC Sports vice president is also an IOC member. But an IOC spokesman insists that Alex Gilady, the IOC delegate from Israel. Had no formal or informal role in the bidding.

In a statement, ESPN indicated it dropped out of the bidding after the price escalated.

"To go any further would not have made good business sense for us," the ESPN statement said. "We put our best foot forward with a compelling offer that included the enthusiastic participation of all of The Walt Disney Company's considerable assets."

Update at 2:10 p.m. ET: "The Olympics are in their DNA," said Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.