Shock. Horror. NBC is angry at the new Olympics channel to be launched by USOC and Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA), announced yesterday. Yesterday, they declined comment when we asked. Today, Dick Ebersol reveals to NYT that they had on and off talks with USOC for a year about combining their Universal Sports (which they part own in conjunction with PE firm Intermedia Partners) channel with the new effort from the U.S. sports body, but talks broke off in April after disagreement on financing terms. IOC has already condemned the new channel, and said in its typical legalese that the new channel “raises complex legal and contractual issues and could have a negative impact on our relationships with other Olympic broadcasters,” meaning with NBC. And NBCU has something to lose: it paid about $2.2 billion for the rights to 2010 Winter and 2012 Summer Olympics rights in U.S. There’s also the veiled implication that this spat between IOC and USOC, which really it a spat between NBC and USOC, could effect Chicago’s chances of getting the 2016 Olympics.
In its part, USOC is trying to garner more support from within the U.S. sports community. It came out with a bunch of endorsements yesterday, responding to the criticism. WSJ has some more on IOC vs USOC.
From a purely consumer perspective, I am having a hard time coming up with some sympathy for NBC Sports on this, the complex rights issues notwithstanding. If only they would suck less in their live sports event coverage…
By Rafat Ali