In a must-read interview, Broadcasting & Cable’s Jon Lafayette speaks to NBC Sports & Olympics chairman Dick Ebersol. The interview is incredibly wide-ranging, covering the Olympics, the Comcast deal, Golf Channel, and even Conan O’Brien and NBCU CEO Jeff Zucker.
With regards to the Olympics, there isn’t much news to make: Ebersol says that NBCU is definitely still interested, and Comcast is likely interested as well. That said, ESPN certainly has the resources to make a competitive bid once the rights come up next year.
Ebersol is more forthcoming when asked about possibly turning Versus into a viable ESPN competitor once the Comcast deal closes:
ESPN went on the air 31 years ago this very day you and I are doing this interview. And they’ve got a pretty solid head start on anyone who wants to go into an all-out battle. I think the best thing to do is to pick the things you think are going to be very helpful to you and do your best to get them. But anyone who expects to get into an all-out war with ESPN is, in my mind, likely a fool.
Lafayette also asks Ebersol about the talks focused on extending the NFL season to 18 games, as well as the possible lockout or strike next season. What would Ebersol do? “Right now, I’m just working up a steady schedule of prayer,” the exec quipped.
The entire interview is worth a good read (or three), as it touches upon just about every sport, but we wanted to highlight one more tidbit: the win by Bucky Gunts at this year’s primetime Emmys. Ebersol suggests that Don Mishcer, who produced the awards show, may have had Gunts in mind when selecting Ricky Gervais to present the award:
And so I think that Don Mischer, who did such a spectacular job this year of producing the Emmys-as well as having the history of creating two Olympic opening ceremonies of his own in Atlanta and Salt Lake, coupled with his knowledge of all things Emmys and the fact that he’s worked closely with Bucky for a decade and a half-may have seen Bucky nominated [and may have arranged] for Gervais to give away that award. I know they have no idea who’s going to win till the envelope is opened, but he figured he would have plenty of fun with Bucky’s name once again on a national media front, and indeed he proved to be right and he got a pretty terrific moment out of it.