ESPN Might Supplement Olympic Bid with Offer of Disney Marketing

By Cam Martin Comment

In an effort to keep up with NBC’s Olympic bid offer, ESPN might supplement its TV rights proposal with the additional marketing strength of Disney, Sports Business Daily reports.

Think Mickey Mouse with the Olympic rings. That’s what ESPN is considering…A deal being considered would make Disney a member of The Olympic Partner (TOP) program, the International Olympic Committee’s marquee sponsorship group, and grant the entertainment company licensing and intellectual property rights. Disney and ESPN executives haven’t made a final decision about how such a deal would be structured, and it’s unlikely the company would pay the $100 million over four years that other TOP partners pay. But senior sources close to the company’s bid believe a Disney sponsorship would distinguish it from its broadcast competitors during rights negotiations by marrying the Olympic rings with Disney’s immense global entertainment assets and familiar content popular with youth across the globe.

In 2003, during the last Olympic rights bidding, NBC’s parent company GE agreed to a $200 million deal to become a TOP sponsor for the 2005-08 and 2009-12 quadrenniums. That $200 million commitment was added to the $2 billion NBC bid for the 2010 and 2012 Olympics, bringing the total value of the deal to $2.2 billion and dwarfing other bids.

The International Olympic Committee will hold bidding for the 2014 Sochi and 2016 Rio de Janeiro TV rights package on June 6-7 in Lausanne, Switzerland. Organizers have said they expect to match or exceed the $2 billion that NBC paid in 2003.