Salt Lake Olympic organizers announced Monday that the television rights to the 2002 Winter Games are being sold to NBC - for $545 million, much more than the $400 million budgeted.
NBC spent more than $1.2 billion for the rights to both the 2002 Winter Games and the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia, paying $545 million for the 2002 Games and $705 million for the 2000 Games. Each city will also receive $10 million worth of advertising and promotion.The package deal with the network was made by the International Olympic Committee months if not years before the television rights to the two cities were supposed to go on the market.
But NBC offered a price to broadcast the Olympics that was just too good to pass up. Richard Pound, an IOC member from Canada who negotiates television contracts, called it a "pre-emptive bid" that "represented an offer that the International Olympic Committee . . . believed we should accept."
Officials of the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee agreed to the deal Friday. According to the host-city contract signed with the IOC, the organizing committee receives 60 percent of the proceeds, the U.S. Olympic Committee, 10 percent, and the IOC, 30 percent.
"This has been a tremendous boost on the revenue side," John Krimsky of the USOC said, praising everyone involved in what he described as "perhaps the most significant contract in U.S. sports history" for a job "very well done."
NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol said the deal came together just last week when NBC decided to go after the 2000 and 2002 Games as a package.
The sale of American television rights to the Sydney Games came as a bit of a surprise, and the announcement involving the Salt Lake Games was positively shocking. The 2002 Winter Games were not supposed to go out for bid until just before the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, although Olympic organizers had hinted it could be sooner.
But the process never actually reached the bid stage. The Peacock Network made a take-it-or-leave-it offer to the IOC - good only through the weekend - that was so big it could not be refused. The deal was signed with Pound on Friday and released Monday.
The $705 million that NBC is paying for the American television rights to the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney and the $545 million for the 2002 Winter Games here are record amounts for both Games.
(NBC holds the previous record for a Summer Olympics, paying $456 million for the 1996 Games in Atlanta. CBS paid $375 million for the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan, which had been the highest fees for a Winter Olympics.)
NBC's bid not only outmaneuvered traditional rivals ABC and CBS but was a big blow to Rupert Murdoch's Fox network. Murdoch - a native of Australia - had made no secret of his desire to win the rights to the 2000 Sydney Games, nor of his willingness to make a record bid of his own.
There was also some indication that NBC wanted to lock up the rights immediately rather than face strong challenges from ABC and CBS, which will soon have new corporate owners with deep pockets. Just last week, Disney announced a mega-merger with Capital Cities/ABC - acquiring that company for more than $19 billion. And, a day later, Westinghouse announced a $5 billion acquisition of CBS.
Sydney's 2000 Games will be the fourth consecutive Summer Olym-pics telecast by NBC, but Salt Lake's 2002 Winter Games will be the first on the Peacock in 30 years - since the 1972 Games in Sapor-ro, Japan.
At KSL-Ch. 5, which will become the local NBC affiliate within a matter of weeks, they're ecstatic. The station will be Utah's television outlet for the 2002 Winter Olympics - not to mention the 2000 Summer Games.
"What a coup for NBC," said Al Henderson, KSL's vice president and general manager.
"Can you believe our luck? We're 45 years as the CBS affiliate, we change and we get the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City!" said KSL News Director Ray Carter.
Indeed, the deal NBC has struck is gold for the soon-to-be NBC affiliate - and bad news for its competitors.
While other broadcast and cable networks receive credentials to the Games, they cannot air footage until after the network that has purchased the TV rights.
No credentials are granted to local stations. Ch. 2, Ch. 4, Ch. 13 - can show up with their cameras outside the various venues, but they will not be allowed inside.
Through its affiliation with NBC, KSL-Ch. 5 will be the only local station to air the 2002 Games.
Broadcast rights: Winter Olympics
YEAR LOCATION MILLION DOLLARS
2002 Salt Lake City 545.0 U.S. rights only
1998 Nagano, Japan 375.0 U.S. rights only
1994 Lillehammer, Norway 295.0 U.S. rights only
1992 Albertville, France 243.0 U.S. rights only
1988 Calgary, Canada 309.0 U.S. rights only
1984 Sarajevo, Yugoslavia 91.3 U.S. rights only
1980 Lake Placid, New York 20.7 All rights
1976 Innsbruck, Austria 11.6 All rights
1972 Sapporo, Japan 8.5 All rights
1968 Grenoble, France 2.6 All rights
SOURCE: Wire service reports and Sport Intern