Bell/CBC Drop Joint Bid on 2014/16 Olympics

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Bell Media have announced they will not bid together on the 2014 and 2016 Olympic Games. The two broadcasting corporations announced they would form a consortium to bid on and broadcast those events. However, it seems they were not willing to pay what the International Olympic Committee was asking. The IOC had already rejected two separate bids from the networks. It seems they have decided a third bid wasn’t worth it.

According to reports the first bid from Bell/CBC was worth around $70 million, while the second was slightly higher at $80 million. Neither were close to what the IOC was looking for.

This development raises a serious possibility that no Canadian broadcast will pay the IOC’s steep price for the 2014/16 Olympics. That would leave Canadians with NBC as the only choice for television coverage. While Bell have said they won’t pursue the Olympic anymore, CBC left the door open for a future bid. That bid could come alone, or with a partner. While Shaw Media have not shown any interest in sports over the past year, the media giant seems intrigued by the Olympics. In an interview with (subscription required) Shaw Media President Paul Robertson said of a possible Olympic bid by Shaw, “I would consider it, yes I would.”

There are also reports of Yahoo bidding for rights, then exclusively streaming their coverage online. While Canada would make a good test market for possible future bids in a country like America, I just don’t know if it is worth it for such a small market size. If Bell, who want their hands on every sports event Canadians watch, and CBC, who take great pride in showing Canadian amateur athletes, didn’t want to pay enough, I have a hard time believing Yahoo will. Or any other new media provider for that matter.

At this point I can’t see any bids on the Olympics until the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement is signed later this summer (hopefully). Even then at could be until after the next NHL national TV contract is signed before CBC will bid again. That could take until the summer of 2013, or longer, leaving less than a year to go before Sochi 2014. I think a joint bid between CBC and Shaw is an interesting possibility. Shaw doesn’t have a sports department; however, many Olympic production and on-air staff are freelancers anyway. Or are people who currently work for CTV Olympics. In such a case Shaw would provide the money, while CBC would provide many experienced commentators.

And then of course the possibility exists that nobody will buy the rights. Could it happen? Sure. It almost did in Australia in 1988. It is what Canadian Dick Pound, a former IOC employee who oversaw the 1988 bid, predicted as a strong possibility. The IOC would certainly face a public relations nightmare if Canadian hockey games in 2014 aren’t on TV. In the end they may have to drop their asking price.


17 thoughts on “Bell/CBC Drop Joint Bid on 2014/16 Olympics

  1. Wow. I just can’t imagine the Olympics not being televised on a Canadian network.
    If the IOC grows up and lowers their asking price, would Bell and CBC re-unite and try again at a bid? Or has Bell already backed out completely? It makes the situation very interesting, since as you said in an earlier article, Rogers can’t bid (unless they partner with Bell).

  2. this is all negotiating ploys. the IOC will realize their expectations are unrealistic, and we will get the games on some combination of network and pay tv.

  3. Josh, why do you think Bell, has backed out completly, Wow, I couldn’t see this day happening!

  4. Could these bids have been turned down just because it was a joint bid by two massive broadcasters in Canada?

    Do you think the IOC would accept a bid of 70 or 80 million dollars IF the bid came from just 1 broadcaster?

    I think the IOC needs to realize that 2014 games are not that attractive because of the time zone and because they don’t know if NHLers will be playing in the games.

    My guess is the IOC sees that Bell/Rogers bid really high for 2010/2012 and is now expecting this from now on..

    • Well they did ok the Bell/Rogers bid for Vancouver and London that is a far bigger group then Bell/Cbc.

      • Bell/Rogers paid 153 million dollars for the 2010/2012 Olympics.
        CBC paid 73 million for the 2006/2008 Olympics.

        So Bell/CBC bidding 70 million wasn’t even half of what was paid before and the 80 million was just over half of what they paid.

        Does the fact of time zones, not being in Canada & not knowing if NHLers being there mean they can bit 83 million dollars less (and then bidding 73 million dollars less?)

        • Yes, absolutely they can bid $83m less. The Canadian Olympics attracted a huge premium in Canada. The IOC got their premium, now they need a dose of commercial reality.

          I am not convinced that Bell are bluffing nor that this is a negotiating ploy. I’ve seen smart business men walk away from $50 billion deals and still not be bluffing!

          • I have a hard time believing that 83 million dollars is the price you pay for being able to get the Canadian games and having NHLers play in the Olympics.

            I think the IOC needs to see that these games are not in Canada and that the attraction of 2010 is not here but at the same time a lot has changed since 06 & 08. The amount of content not just available on TV but available online has grown significantly so turning down a Bell/CBC bid does make sense at that price.

            Is there a possibility we see the Bell/Rogers alliance back if Rogers negotiates in having City TV do something during the games and make sure Rogers can bid alone on the Olympics come 2018?

            This is all speculation but I cannot see the Olympics not being broadcasted in Canada.

    • I think 2010/12 was so high because London and Vancouver are such attractive venues (and time zones). Not so much with Sochi and Rio. It is much more comparable to 2006/08.

      I think around 90-100 million is maybe higher than reasonable. 75-90 is quite reasonable. I think the IOC will drop the rates as 2014 gets closer. If CBC loses NHL rights, then their bids will increase. Eventually I think the two may meet somewhere in the middle.

      • How is London a more attractive time zone than Rio? Rio allows the big events to be held in our prime time whereas those same events in London will begin around 3 pm EDT.

  5. CTV/Rogers paid the large sum they did for the 2010 and 2012 games just because they wanted to shut the CBC out and have the prestige of carrying the 2010 winter games from Vancouver. By comparison the upcoming 2012 summer games in London are generating little to no buzz/anticipation compared to the winter games on home soil a couple years ago. It was a package deal and it’s been reported it’s been a money loser for the consortium. Question: where does the all the money in rights fees to the IOC end up going (who gets it)?

    I doubt the networks are as willing to lose money on the 2014 and 2016 games. Don’t forget the CBC, Bell, and Rogers, could be saving their money to bid on the next national NHL contract which surely won’t come cheap either. I think they’d all probably prefer to put their money towards a bid on that. Nevertheless, I still can’t see how the 2014 and 2016 games will go without a rights holder in Canada. I think eventually the IOC will just have to accept what the market value for those games is in Canada and take it.

    • The money is split up a number of ways;
      – IOC retains some for their operations and programs
      – the local organizing committee (ex. VANOC in 2010) gets a big cut
      – the various sports federations (IIHF, FIBA, ISU, FIFA) get a cut
      – some goes back to the national olympic associations (Canadian tv money goes to the COC, US money to the USOC, etc)

  6. How is Rio not an attractive time zone? It’s in a time zone that is ideal for Canadians to watch the Olympics!

  7. Personally, if the CBC doesn’t do the next Olympics then whatever butchering NBC or Yahoo or whoever does to coverage will suffice for this household. CTV ruined the Vancouver Olympics for us and we’re already tired of watching their coverage 2 days in for London.

    The IOC will find themselves unable to market the Olympics in Canada at all if they keep the coverage out of reach of those who know how to do it right.

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