IOC may take next TV bid to cover four Olympics

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Canadian IOC member Dick Pound, the committee’s former negotiator of US TV rights, said the four-games package made financial sense to the networks as a long-term investment.

“With 2014 and ‘16 being in higher-risk places, it might be better for the networks to be able to make the investment and hope to recoup it,” Pound said, noting the 2018 Games will be in Europe or South Korea and the 2020 Olympics could be in Rome. “There’s no reason it shouldn’t happen if the deal is sensible and it’s adequately backed financially.”

Multi-games deals have been made before.

In 1995, NBC obtained the rights to five Olympics from 2000 to 2008 in a pair of deals worth $3.5 billion. Those negotiations took place in secret, without other networks getting a chance.

The current competitors must be prepared to offer sealed bids worth billions of dollars in an uncertain financial climate. NBC reported losses of $223 million on last year’s Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Carrion expects a higher fee for the 2014 and 2016 Olympics than the previous $2 billion.

“Without a doubt,” he said. “We think it’s a fantastic event. Much more than a product, it’s something that the whole world looks forward to. It’s a unique event. We want to make sure we maximize the value of the rights, which we think are considerable.”

Pound, who is no longer involved in the rights deals, said the IOC must judge whether the networks have sufficient long-term backing from their parent companies.

“Do they have financial heft to stay out there for eight years and honor hundreds of millions of dollars of promises?” Pound said. “It certainly would be very risky for the IOC to have a broadcast partner go belly up.”

The IOC is preparing to move forward even with NBC in the midst of a takeover by cable TV giant Comcast Corp. The deal, which has been under regulatory review, is expected to be approved by the Federal Communications Commission and Justice Department early this year. Comcast would obtain a controlling stake in NBC Universal from GE.

Comcast hasn’t made its Olympic intentions clear.

“They will certainly have their say, being the majority owner,” Carrion said. “It’s a big, big decision for them, absolutely.”

Carrion said the auction would be “very similar” to the previous round, when the networks submitted sealed bids at IOC headquarters in Lausanne.

___

AP Sports Writer Rachel Cohen in New York contributed to this report.

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