Olympic Bid Haunts NBC

By Andrew Gauthier 

The New York Times

The Winter Olympics start in 23 days, and NBC expects to lose $200 million on them.

But it didn’t have to be that way–even with an economy that has shredded NBC’s advertising assumptions.

In June 2003, executives from NBC, ESPN and Fox gathered at the International Olympic Committee’s headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, to bid for the television rights to the 2010 Winter Games, which had not yet been awarded to Vancouver, and the 2012 Summer Games, which would be given to London.

NBC approached the competitive bidding as the comfortable incumbent, having acquired the rights to every Olympics from 2000 to 2008 for $3.5 billion in one-on-one talks with the I.O.C. that excluded rival networks.

NBC was a much stronger network then, in second place in prime time, not fourth, as it is now. More…