Breaking: Sportsnet, TSN, RDS Partner with CBC for 2014 Olympics

The 2014 Olympics begin in 365 days in Sochi, Russia. Today Sportsnet announced that they are the official cable broadcaster of the Games in Canada. This is just the latest partnership between the two networks which also includes the 2014 FIFA World Cup. I’ll have a lot more on this later, but for now here is a statement from Sportsnet.

Today marks the official one-year countdown to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia and Sportsnet is pleased to announce it has reached a sub-licensing deal with CBC to provide Canadians with comprehensive coverage of the Games.

Further platform distribution announcements are to come, but under the agreement Sportsnet is now an official cable broadcaster of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

As part of the sub-licensing deal, Sportsnet and Sportsnet ONE will carry approximately 200 hours of 2014 Olympic Winter Games coverage, including coverage in prime time

And as did TSN and RDS, evidently. Somehow I missed this. Worth noting that TSN and RDS have shown every Olympics since 1998. Very impressive.

TSN and RDS are partnering with CBC/Radio-Canada to provide coverage of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

Through the partnership, both networks will be able to bring viewers access to live events and coverage across TSN and RDS’s sports, news, and entertainment platforms.

TSN and RDS have been part of Canada’s Olympic tradition for the past three decades, setting the standard of excellence for delivering Olympic coverage during the Vancouver 2010 and London 2012 Games.

TSN and RDS will provide more details on this partnership and broadcast information in the near future.

And here is CBC’s press release with all that news and more. Read the bolded section closely. What’s coming next? Netflix for highlights?

Today marks the official one-year countdown to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, and CBC/Radio-Canada is thrilled to bring the Olympic Games home to Canadians. As Canada’s Official Broadcaster, CBC/Radio-Canada brings Canadians cross-platform coverage of the top news and stories in the year leading up to Sochi 2014, running from February 7 – 23, 2014. With exclusive license arrangements, TSN, RDS, and Sportsnet will also present coverage of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Stay tuned – more platform distribution announcements to come.

“We’re incredibly proud to be the official home of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games,” said Kirstine Stewart, Executive Vice-President, English Services, CBC. “As we count down to Sochi 2014, we are committed to sharing the inspirational stories of our athletes, while providing Canadians with a robust Olympic Games experience, across all platforms.”
Louis Lalande, Executive Vice-President, Radio-Canada, added: “The Olympic Games have been part of Radio-Canada’s DNA for over fifty years. It is with great anticipation that we prepare for Sochi 2014. We aim to offer viewers from coast to coast a distinct coverage that will allow them to live and breathe with our athletes on this most prestigious stage.”
Click here for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games English Promo.
CBC/Radio-Canada is the place to be as we count down to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. With coverage across all platforms – including TV, radio, online, and mobile – Canadians can connect with the biggest stories and the latest content whenever and wherever they want it. Through world-class storytelling and the best performance coverage available, CBC/Radio-Canada will introduce viewers to Canadian athletes poised to take on the world in 2014. Canadians can engage with CBC/Radio-Canada leading up to and throughout the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games online in English at CBC.ca/Olympics and in French at Radio-Canada.ca/Olympiques, as well as on Twitter in English at @cbcolympics (#cbcolympics), and in French at @RC_Sports (#RColympiques).
The countdown to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi was in full-swing this week on CBC, with extensive programming on all platforms. Throughout the week, viewers have enjoyed extensive coverage, with stories from Sochi and beyond, as well as a look at Canada’s Olympians as they prepare for the Games.

2012 Olympics: Full schedule and CTV lineup

It may have taken awhile, but the Bell/Rogers Alliance have finally released today their full daily line-up for the 2012 London Olympics, due to begin in two weeks from today.

Viewers can head to CTVOlympics.ca/guide and RDSolympiques.ca/leguide for a fully interactive guide of every event being screened across the two websites and nine networks during the 5,500 hours of coverage over the two weeks. All medal events are highlighted, as will be live events, with direct access to the live online stream.

CTV will feature 22 hours of coverage per day, with a breakdown that looks like this:

4 am to 11:30 am ET: LIVE Olympic Morning
11:30 am to 6 pm ET: LIVE Olympic Daytime
6 pm to 7 pm (local): CTV News
7 pm to 11 pm (local): Olympic Primetime
11 pm to 11:30 pm (local): CTV National News
11:30 pm to Midnight (local): CTV News
Midnight to 4 am ET: Olympic Overnight (Olympic Primetime Encore)

The full press release can be read after the break.

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Big CTV Olympics Broadcast News Tomorrow

CTV will unveil details of the Bell Olympic Viewers’ Guide tomorrow. I hope to have any press releases sometime tomorrow afternoon. I’ll post more on it sometime tomorrow evening. The Olympics are only 17 days away.

By the way, if you have a chance to catch an encore of Cybulski & Company for today (I’m not sure if it is available on-demand on TSN.ca or not), do it. Brian Williams joined the show for the last hour. He had a few great stories.

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 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.

Yahoo! to Bid for Canadian Olympic Broadcasting Rights?

I came across a very interesting story in The Globe and Mail this morning. There were to pieces of information in The Globe story that were of interest. The first, unsurprisingly, is CBC and Bell resubmitted their 2014/2016 Olympic broadcasting bid to the IOC, presumably at a slightly higher price tag than the approximately $70 million bid the IOC rejected earlier this year. As expected, CBC and Bell are reluctant to pay big money until the NHL and NHLPA confirm that hockey’s biggest stars will play in Sochi.

What is possibly more interesting is that Yahoo Canada is considering a bid for the Games. Yahoo doesn’t have a conventional TV station in Canada, although presumably if they won rights they could sub-license some coverage to a conventional broadcaster. Instead coverage would be streamed online. While more and more Canadians are turning to internet streaming, it still doesn’t have the reach of conventional television broadcasting. Yahoo also has other problems, such as having no commentators or production staff with less than two years to go until the Sochi Olympics.

CBC/Bell will probably bid again once the status of NHL players for the 2014 Olympics is confirmed in the summer. The broadcasters will either raise their bid, or the IOC will lower their expectations at that time. Unconventional broadcasters, such as Yahoo, could cause the bidding to go up, but in the end I think the IOC is likely to award rights to CBC/Bell.

EDIT: According to Ollie Williams, who has knowledge of how Olympic broadcasts work, Yahoo would have time to put a production together in less than two years, if need be. As long as Yahoo could get the right executive team in place, finding production staff and commentators wouldn’t be too hard.

2002 Olympic Moment: 10 Years Ago Today

There are some memories in Canadian sports that stick with us better than others. It was ten years ago today that Jamie Sale and David Pelletier received their gold medals at the 2002 Olympics. Many will remember that a judging scandal caused the Canadian pair to finish second to the Russians. After an investigation after the February 11 competition, the Canadians finally received their gold medals (along with the Russians) in a second medal ceremony on February 17. I remember watching both CBC and NBC’s coverage throughout those few days during these unprecedented events. Of course this also changed figure skating forever as a new judging system was introduced. Here is a video of the medal ceremony. You can continue after the break to see the Canadians’ free skate.

Some of my best Olympic memories come from the 2002 Salt Lake City games. If anyone has any of their favourite Salt Lake 2002 memories to share, please leave a comment.

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IOC Rejects CBC/Bell Olympic Bid

In a column this morning, Rick Westhead of The Toronto Star reports that the International Olympic Committee has rejected CBC and Bell’s bid to broadcast the 2014 and 2016 Olympic Games because it is too low. According to the article, CBC and Bell offered the IOC $70 million for the rights to the Games in Sochi and Rio. CTV and Rogers paid $153 million for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the upcoming Summer Olympics in London. CBC paid $73 million for rights to the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin and the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. It is unheard of for Olympic broadcasting fees to go down, usually they substantially rise. NBC’s bid for the 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020 Olympics averaged about $1.1 Billion per Olympics, which is the same as the average price they paid for the 2010 and 2012 Olympics.

CBC and Bell first announced they would bid together for the Olympics in September, following the announcement that Bell’s partner for the 2010 and 2012 Olympics, Rogers, has opted out of their deal with Bell. Rogers executives have stated that they won’t bid for the upcoming Games in Sochi and Rio. Aside from CBC/Bell, there are no serious bidders for the 2014/2016 package in Canada. As a result CBC/Bell will want to bid as low as possible; however, the IOC has an option to reject all bids if none are up to their standards. This means it is possible, although unlikely, that nobody will broadcast the 2014 and 2016 Olympics in Canada.

In order to push CBC out of Olympic broadcasting, CTV and Rogers overbid on the 2010/2012 package, inflating the base price in the Canadian market. Nobody expects CBC/Bell to pay anywhere near the 2010/2012 rate, mainly because there isn’t a home Olympics in this package. However, when compared with 2006/2008, the fee for 2014/2016 should be higher based on the host cities alone; even without taking other factors into consideration. The 2006 Olympics were in Turin, which is 6 hours ahead of the Eastern Time Zone. Most events took place while Canadians were at work, but a few hockey games and figure skating programs (two of the highest rated Winter Olympic sports in Canada) took place in the late afternoon Eastern, allowing Canadians to catch the conclusion as they came home from work or school. Most viewed the games on tape delay in primetime. Sochi is 8 hours ahead of the Eastern Time Zone, which means that viewing habits will be similar to 2006. On the other hand, Rio is in the same time zone as the Maritimes during our summer. This will mean that major sports like athletics, gymnastics and swimming will take place in North American primetime.

These factors should increase the value of the games based on the 2006/2008 package. I’d guess somewhere around 80 million; maybe more. I don’t know what more the IOC could ask for considering how bad it would look on them if the Olympics weren’t broadcast to a major country like Canada. If NHL players confirm their participation in the 2014 Olympics, then CBC and Bell would probably bid more. This issue is a major topic in the upcoming NHL/NHLPA collective bargaining talks. CBC/Bell originally intended to submit two bids, one if NHL players participate and one in case they don’t. According to the article in The Star, the IOC rejected that idea. As a result, I could see CBC/Bell waiting a few more months to see what decision the NHL and its players make on playing in 2014. Olympic hockey, with NHL players, is what brings in viewers and sells ads. Without it, CBC/Bell would lose even more money on the Olympics.

One problem that CBC and Bell face is time. The Sochi Olympics are only about two years away. Test events in alpine skiing take place this Feburary. Everyone else is preparing for Sochi. The good news is that CTV already has an Olympic production crew in place. CBC also has plenty of employees – both on and off camera – with Olympic experience. I wouldn’t worry about the lack of a deal until fall, after the London Games are done. I think CBC/Bell and the IOC will work something out. There is too much to lose on both sides if the Olympics aren’t broadcast in Canada. CBC relies on the name recognition of athletes at the Olympics to boost their weekly amateur sports programs.

CBC and Bell Media to Form New Olympic Partnership

One day after Rogers President Keith Pelley announced that his network won’t be pursuing the 2014 and 2016 Olympic Games, CBC/Radio-Canada and Bell Media have announced they will be, together. The new partnership, which is independent of Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Consortium, have agreed to bid on the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil. This news comes as a bit of a surprise to me as I thought that Bell would go at the Olympics alone this time around.

What this does do though, is combine the two most serious Olympic bidders. As a result, the rights fee will be kept to a minimum, benefiting both Bell and CBC (as well as Canadian taxpayers). This is similar to how ITV and BBC, the two main broadcasting networks in Britain, share World Cup TV coverage.

Here is a quote from Bell Media President Kevin Crull:

The Olympic Games are a premium property that requires a strong partnership in order to deliver the level of experience that Canadian viewers and advertising partners now expect. With our combined resources and experience, this strategic alliance with CBC/Radio-Canada allows us to deliver the best possible Games experience to Canadians, and ensure the legacy of the Olympic movement in this country. Of course London 2012 is just around the corner, and we look forward to extending the successful partnership with Rogers exhibited at Vancouver 2010 into a powerful media experience for viewers once again.

And a quote from Kirstine Stewart, Executive Vice-President, English Services, CBC/Radio-Canada:

This partnership is positive news for Canadians as it is a first and important step in renewing the Olympic tradition on all of the public broadcaster’s platforms. With our commitment to keep offering world-class sports events, including Olympic Games, we will continue optimizing partnership opportunities like this one for the benefit of all Canadians

I expect that CBC and CTV will share over-the-air coverage, with CTV probably airing less than CBC, especially in primetime. However, it is possible that CTV isn’t included at all. There has been no indication yet as to what channels will be used. TSN and TSN2 will be the main cable providers, with Bold likely involved as well. Radio-Canada will carry the brunt of French-language programming, with RDS, RDS2 and RDS Info supplementing coverage.

Many of the best Olympic presentations came between 1998 and 2008 when CBC and TSN pooled their resources to cover the Games. Those productions had a heavy CBC slant, mostly using CBC commentators and even graphics. CBC produced on-site coverage for TSN, except in 2002 I believe, while TSN only produced their studio show. Expect things to be different this time around. There will still be a number of high-profile CBC commentators, but expect TSN will provide more of its commentators as well.

Just imagine the three men’s hockey crews, Chris Cuthbert and Ray Ferraro; Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson; and Gord Miller and Glenn Healy, with Mark Lee and Cassie Campbell calling women’s hockey. Which raises the question, Sunday February 23, 2014, the men’s ice hockey final between Canada and Russia live from Bolshoi Ice Palace, who calls it? Jim Hughson or Chris Cuthbert? Or do CBC and Bell do separate broadcasts of the hockey final? I’d like to hear everyone’s thoughts on this, so leave a comment.

If Bell and CBC win, which I fully expect they will, then theme song (the best, in my opinion) will probably make a return.

Pelley: Rogers Won’t Bid on 2014/2016 Olympics

The head of Rogers Broadcasting, Keith Pelley, has released a statement confirming that Rogers will not bid on rights to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia or the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil. Rogers currently holds a 20% stake in Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Consortium, which Bell Media holds a majority stake in. Despite that just a year ago the Consortium said that they planned to bid together on the 2014 and 2016 Olympic cycle, this news comes as no surprise to me.

Rogers and TSN are currently in the middle of a bidding war that began late last year when Bell took over CTVglobemedia and Pelley was brought in as the head of Rogers Broadcasting. Since then, the two media giants have spent outrageous amounts of money on everything from tennis to print columnists to radio stations in order to out-do each other. It seemed inevitable, regardless of the noise coming from those inside the consortium, that it would be hard for the networks to work together again, especially with Rogers playing a minority role.

Pelley had the following to say in a statement

Scheduling conflicts, combined with our financial priorities, suggest that it’s best for us not to be involved at this time. This was a difficult decision on so many levels. But it’s a disciplined approach that allows us to pursue new opportunities to best serve our viewers, shareholders and advertisers.

A translation from corporate-language to English is that Rogers don’t think they can make money off the Olympics. It is the same conclusion that CBS, and to a lesser degree Fox and ESPN, came to in the United States earlier this year. Instead of spending money on the Olympics, it looks like Rogers is saving for something that does make money; like, oh I don’t know, the National Hockey League or World Cup.

The 2014 and 2016 Olympics aren’t anywhere near as sexy as 2010 or 2012 either. A Canadian Olympics is guaranteed to generate ratings, and London is London. Sochi will be a tough sell for any broadcaster. And the Rio Olympics will conflict with 15-17 Blue Jays games, which Rogers believes can do just as good on their channels as those Olympics.

Now the major question is, who will be bidding on the 2014/2016 Olympic cycle? The obvious front-runner is probably still the now Rogers-less Consortium, or as it’s now known, Bell Media. Bell has access to a national OTA network (CTV), two major sports channels (TSN and TSN2) and two French language sports channels (RDS and RDS2).

This probably also brings CBC back into the race. The only thing CBC doesn’t have is a readily-available cable channel to show secondary coverage on. Sportsnet and TVA Sports immediately come to mind, but with today’s announcement, it seems much less likely. If theScore manages to survive three more years, than CBC could consider partnering with it. The other option would be to launch CBC Sports Plus and Radio-Canada Sports, which would give CBC almost as much clout as Bell.

Canadian Olympic broadcast rights still may be sold this fall; however, the International Olympic Committee may wait until winter with this announcement from Rogers. Regardless it will be an interesting bidding process with at least two or three entities involved.

NBC Is America’s Olympic Network… Until 2020

We still don’t know where the XXXII Olympiad will be in 2020 (Rome is the only city officially bidding right now, Toronto is among the cities considering it), but we do know one thing for sure, Americans (and Canadians alike) will be able to watch coverage on NBC and its family of cable networks. NBC paid $4.38 billion for the next four Olympics (2014 in Sochi, 2016 in Rio, 2018 and 2020). That averages out to $1.1 billion per Olympics. John Ourand of Sports Business Journal reports that Fox was the next highest bidder at 3.4 billion (850 million per Olympics) for the same package as NBC got. Fox and ESPN also bid on just the 2014 and 2016 Games. Fox bid 1.5 billion (750 million per) for that package, while ESPN bid 1.4 billion (700 million per).

I think that the IOC was dead-set on selling a four Olympics package, which cut ESPN out of contention from the start. That left the battle between NBC and Fox, and with NBC’s bid being almost a full one million higher than Fox’s, there really wasn’t much choice for the IOC to make. NBC was already a known commodity, which made the choice even easier. There were rumours that with the resignation of Dick Ebersol a couple weeks back that NBC wouldn’t bid as high on these games as they would’ve under Ebersol. That doesn’t seem to be true as NBC bid much higher than their competitors, almost too high in my opinion. I expect they may operate in the red for all four Olympics, they almost certainly will in 2014 and 2018. Live primetime coverage in Rio will help them out in 2016.

Here is a quote from Brian Roberts, Chairman and CEO, Comcast

We are honored to continue as the U.S. Olympic broadcaster for the remainder of this decade. The vision for our new Comcast-NBCUniversal was to create new platforms and technologies to distribute the very best content. Every two years the Olympic Games provides iconic content for us to deliver on all platforms. We are proud to continue the rich heritage and long association that NBC has had with the IOC and I personally want to thank President Jacques Rogge and Richard Carrion for their long-term trust.

And Steve Burke,  CEO, NBCUniversal

“I’m extremely pleased we will be continuing as the IOC’s U.S. media partner. Broadcasting sports events is an important part of our business and the Olympics are obviously a significant part of the portfolio. We have a talented and experienced team in place with a legacy of outstanding Olympics coverage and we are all looking forward to London next year and to Sochi and Rio after that.

And Mark Lazarus, Chairman, NBC Sports Group

It is a great thrill to know that NBC’s unsurpassed Olympic heritage and unprecedented partnership with the IOC will continue through 2020. The Olympics are a significant part of NBC and the IOC again recognized NBCUniversal’s unmatched ability to promote, market, program and produce the Olympic Games. London, Sochi, Rio and the 2018 and 2020 Games will benefit from our ability to galvanize all the resources of the newly-formed NBC Sports Group to bring the Games to more homes and more platforms than ever.

And finally the President of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge

We are delighted to have reached an agreement with our longstanding partner NBC. We received three excellent bids and would like to thank each broadcaster for their presentations. In the end we were most impressed with NBC, which not only has a track record for broadcasting the Games that speaks for itself, but also has a clear and innovative vision of where it wants to take the broadcast of the Games between now and 2020. We look forward to continuing to build on our already strong relationship beginning in London next year.

With the merger of NBCUniversal and Comcast, NBC will have numerous cable networks available to them to broadcast these Olympics. These networks include USA, Versus, MSNBC, CNBC, Golf Channel (golf will be an Olympic sport in 2016), Universal Sports and the regional group of Comcast Sportsnet channels.

Oh yeah, and apparently every single event will be broadcast live on TV or online. I’m not sure if this will begin in 2012 or 2014.

Dick Ebersol Resigns from NBC Sports

It looks like some big changes may be in store at NBC Sports. Dick Ebersol, the now former Chairman of NBC Sports and Olympics, resigned this afternoon amidst contract negotiations with his new bosses at Comcast that were apparently going nowhere. There had been rumblings that Ebersol and Comcast argued about whether they should broadcast the Olympics with more live coverage, like CBC and CTV have in Canada, or continue to tape delay the majority of the coverage for primetime. So, to be honest, I’m not all that surprised that Ebersol resigned even though he loved his job and the Olympics. With US Olympic TV rights for 2014 and 2016 being sold in the coming months, it appears like this was a major factor in Ebersol’s decision to resign. Ebersol has also been a proponent of tape delaying NBC’s coverage of Wimbledon and Roland Garros, especially on the west coast. Whether this decision will impact NBC’s coverage of Wimbledon this year or not is unclear, but it would seem it won’t.

I believe that Comcast feels pressure from their cable rivals ESPN, who are promising to cover the 2014 and 2016 Olympics live if they get rights. This works well for ESPN where the cable channel is the main outlet and the over-the-air channel, ABC, is the secondary outlet. It allows first run live coverage on ESPN and ESPN2, with tape delayed primetime coverage, much like NBC’s, on ABC. NBC has never really faced the threat of a serious contender for Olympic TV rights promising to do more live coverage than them before. This combined with the Comcast merger are major factors in the top execs at NBC and Comcast putting the pressure on Ebersol to include more live coverage.

In addition to the Olympics, Ebersol also brought the NFL back to NBC, in the form of Sunday Night Football. He also oversaw NBC’s NBA coverage, and the subsequent loss of it, in the 1990s. The NBA on NBC is widely believed to be one of the best sports productions of all time. Recently Ebersol re-united the horse racing triple crown on one station after NBC purchased rights to this year’s Belmont Stakes and negotiated a deal with the International Rugby Board to show the final of the 2011 Rugby World cup on broadcast TV in the United States, a first for that sport.

In a phone interview with the Associated Press, Ebersol commented, “I had a long run and loved every bit of it. I’ve worn the five (Olympics) rings on the inside of my heart as much as anybody.”

Comcast and NBC announced that former Turner Sports executive Mark Lazarus will fill Ebersol’s role of Chairman of NBC Sports Group.

CTV and Rogers To Bid for 2014 & 2016 Games

The Globe & Mail is reporting that the CTV-Rogers Olympic Broadcast Consortium will bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil. The Consortium, which was established in 2005, was the Canadian broadcaster of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, where they provided more hours of coverage than any other broadcaster previously had (by a large margin). CTV-Rogers already has rights to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, which were part of the Vancouver 2010 package (Olympic Games are sold in packages of two).

It cost CTV and Rogers US$153 million to gain Canadian rights away from CBC for the Vancouver and London Games, but the price tag isn’t expected to be anywhere near that high for the 2014/2016 package for many reasons, including the lack of a home Olympics and the economic downturn. Plus the Sochi Games will largely happen during the middle of the night here in Canada, so advertisers won’t be willing to pay as much for 30 second spots. There will be a drastic cut in the amount of people watching live coverage in Sochi as well, because it is simply hard to convince someone to wake up at 4am to watch bobsleigh. However, the Rio Games will bring live primetime coverage of major sports such as athletics, swimming, gymnastics, diving and football, which will certainly mean that CTV will be the highest rated network each night of the Games considering how low rated every other summer show is.

One thing that could be a huge factor for the amount of the winning bid is whether the NHL decides to send its players to the 2014 Games in Sochi. Like I said most Canadians won’t wake up at 4am to watch bobsleigh; however, many would wake up in the middle of the night to watch Sidney Crosby, Taylor Hall, John Tavares and crew play an Olympic hockey game, regardless of who it is against. But, Canadians just wouldn’t have the interest if Crosby, Ovechkin and co. weren’t there.  The NHL has not yet set a timetable on when they will make their decision, but commissioner Gary Bettman says that the NHL would like to be there, they just aren’t sure if it’s finincially viable to shut down the league for 3 weeks to send players to the other side of the world yet. This can really only be compared to when the NHL sent players to Nagano in 1998, instead of waiting for Salt Lake 2002 to be the first time that NHLers competed in the Olympics. It is possible that if the NHL doesn’t make a decision by spring, when Canadian bidding on the Games will happen, that the bidders could put in two different prices, one of the NHL goes and one if it doesn’t.

Of course this all leads to the question of who CTV-Rogers’ competitors will be. CBC will certainly be looking to gain Olympic rights back after losing the last round of bidding. In the past five years CBC has lost many of its main sports properties such as the Olympics, CFL football and Season of Champions curling events. It is expected that if CBC were to bid, a new sports channel called CBC Sports Plus would be included, along with CBC Bold. Those channels probably wouldn’t be enough though, which would leave CBC scrambling to find someone to bid with, such as The Score maybe. The main problem with The Score is that they have cut money left, right and centre losing Premier League and NBA rights in the past ten months. That could mean that they actually have money for an Olympic bid, or that they have absolutely nothing.

Shaw could also enter an Olympic bid, since it will be in control of Global Television by next spring. Of course now Global has no sports resources, but I expect that to change once Shaw takes over the channel. Corus channels TLN and Euroworld Sports could be involved as well. Once again though, Shaw would probably need the backing of The Score to offer anything that could compete with CTV-Rogers.

Then there is the 3rd possibility, that CBC and Shaw could bid together. I honestly wouldn’t rule this out, even though virtually everyone gets both CBC and Global. In fact that could put this partnership over the top since CBC has a larger reach than CTV and Global likewise when compared to TSN and Sportsnet. It would be almost akin to the way that BBC and ITV bid on World Cup and European Football Championship rights in the United Kingdom. Once again, The Score would likely be included, in fact even more likely that it would be along with CBC or Shaw because it wouldn’t have to put in as much money. A CBC-Shaw bid would probably include all the channels that I mentioned, and I think it could very well be the front-runner if it happens because of the two OTA networks, which will look good to the IOC.

Expect more news on all of this in the coming months as I continue to report on both the Canadian and American bids for the 2014 and 2016 Olympic Games. For those interested in what’s going on in the US, its expected that these will be the bidders south of the 49th.
Comcast – soon to be the new owners of NBC, USA Network, MSNBC and the current owners of Versus.
CBS/Turner – would include CBS, TBS, TNT, Showtime
Fox – Fox, FSN, FX
ESPN – ESPN, ESPN2, ABC

If you have any comments on who you think will (or would like to) get broadcasting rights for the 2014/2016 Olympics then please leave a comment. For more up to date information on sports broadcasting (and other things), please follow me on Twitter.