Following NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol's abrupt resignation last month, Comcast CEO Steve Roberts assured members of the International Olympic Committee that NBC was still very interested in retaining the US television rights to the Olympics. It looks like he was serious. The AP's Steve Wilson is tweeting that NBC beat out ESPN and FOX for the right to air the for the 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020 Games. The news will be formally announced at a press conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. ET.
Ebersol produced 10 Olympics at NBC, but rumors had circulated that new corporate parent Comcast was hesitant to pay up to keep the games after NBC lost $223 million on the 2010 Vancouver games, which Ebersol denied.
We'll update as more information about the deal is reported.
Update: The AP is reporting the deal is worth "more than $4 billion," while the Chicago Tribune's Philip Hersh puts the figure at $4.4 billion. IOC officials had been hoping to secure a commitment in the $4 billion to $5 billion range by selling rights packages to four games.
Richard Sandomir of the New York Times is tweeting that ESPN only bid for two games, while FOX placed bids on the two and four-Olympic packages.
Update 2: FOX (and ESPN) issued statements congratulating NBC on the win. At the press conference, IOC president Jacques Rogge said "the Olympics are in NBC's DNA." Comcast CEO Steve Roberts issued a statement announcing his pleasure at being able to maintain the "profitable relationship." While FOX has congratulated NBC, ESPN's press strategy included sour grapes along with their best wishes. Here's the full text of a press release they just issued.
We made a disciplined bid that would have brought tremendous value to the Olympics and would have been profitable for our company. To go any further would not have made good business sense for us. We wish to congratulate the IOC on a fair and transparent process, and we offer our best wishes to Comcast/NBC. 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 3: An IOC press release officially puts NBC's winning bid at $4.38 billion.
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