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 Cartt.ca (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.