The International Olympic Committee official who sold the television rights to the 2002 Winter Games for a record $545 million said Salt Lake Olympic organizers should continue making more money than expected.
"It's as good a start to the Games as I can imagine," Richard Pound, a member of the IOC executive board from Montreal, said in a telephone interview Wednesday.Last week, Pound agreed to accept an unprecedented $1.27 billion offer from NBC for the broad-cast rights to both the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City and the 2000 Summer Games in Syd-ney, Aus-tral-ia.
He said the hefty increase in the price paid for the American television rights - and the fact the 2002 Winter Games rights were sold two years sooner than expected - should signal other sponsors to pay more, too.
The confidence that NBC showed by bidding beyond the $400 million that Salt Lake Olympic organizers predicted the rights would bring "should be a very good leg up" on marketing the 2002 Winter Games, Pound said.
NBC made the pre-emptive bid without even knowing the dates when the 2002 Winter Games were scheduled to be held, he said, describing the risk that the network was willing to take.
Broadcasters from the rest of the world should also come up with more than the $126 million that Salt Lake Olympic organizers are anticipating, Pound said. "I hope that's very conservative," he said.
The 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, for example, brought in $275.8 million from foreign television markets, including $250 million from the European Broadcast Union alone.
Yet, NBC bought the American broadcast rights to the Atlanta Games for $456 million - much less than the network is paying for the smaller and traditionally less-watched Winter Games here.
Pound said Atlanta Olympic organizers have wrongly regarded that price, record-breaking at the time, as "a semi-slap in the face," having publicly speculated they would get $600 million.
Salt Lake Olympic organizers planned on raising $800 million to stage the Games, including about $30 million in federal funds for security, the only taxpayer contribution in their budget.
About 40 percent of the revenues are supposed to come fromthe sale of television rights, about 42 percent from corporate sponsorships, 10 percent from tickets and the rest from stamps, coins and donations.
The NBC deal brought in 30 percent more than Salt Lake Olympic organizers budgeted, raising their take from the sale of American television revenues $89 million. The network is also giving the city $10 million in advertising time.
The IOC keeps 40 percent of any proceeds from the sale of broadcast rights, distributing most of it to athlete organizations, including national Olympic committees.
The first check from NBC is due in January 1998, for 15 percent of the total payment. The network will turn over another 5 percent annually until 2002, when 30 percent is due before the Games begin in February, and the remaining 35 percent, 10 days after they end two weeks later.
Salt Lake Olympic organizers now have to come up with a marketing plan to present to the IOC for approval, then go out and start selling the 2002 Winter Games.
"I think they should be quietly confident at this point that they're going to be able to organize the Games the way they want to," Pound said. "I wouldn't go out and build ski jumps out of platinum or anything, though."
Tom Welch, president of the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee, agreed the NBC deal should attract more sponsors willing to pay more money to participate in the 2002 Winter Games.
It adds "a real value in the product of Salt Lake City and will create more of an excitement level," Welch said. "I think it creates a more hospitable market. That's to our benefit."