(Updates with Pilson comments starting fourth paragraph.)
June 7 (Bloomberg) -- Comcast Corp.’s NBC Universal won the U.S. television rights to broadcast the four Olympic games starting in 2014, outbidding Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN and News Corp.’s Fox.
NBC will carry the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the 2016 summer games in Rio de Janeiro, and the 2018 and 2020 games, according to a statement today from Fox, which was told of the decision by the International Olympic Committee.
NBC Universal paid $2.2 billion for the broadcast rights to the 2010 games in Vancouver and 2012 Olympics in London. The Olympic Committee delayed broadcast bidding in March 2009 during the worldwide financial crisis. An official announcement is due today from the IOC in Lausanne, Switzerland.
“It was important them to retain these rights, they consider the Olympics a franchise,” said Neal Pilson, former president of CBS Sports. “Having all four games allows you to keep your production unit intact; you can make sales arrangements with sponsors with multiple games. It was a smart move by the IOC to put all four games up for bid.”
The Associated Press reported earlier that NBC had won the rights to the four Games.
Comcast, the biggest U.S. cable system operator, rose 30 cents to $24.22 at 1:41 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares climbed 8.9 percent this year before today.
Comcast, owner of sports channels including Versus and Golf Channel, can use the Olympics to promote its networks to a much larger audience, Pilson said.
“One of the strategic reasons for Comcast was to grow the subscriber base for Versus,” said Pilson, now president of Pilson Communications Inc., in Chappaqua, New York. “I’m sure Versus will have significant Olympic programming and they can now launch an Olympic channel in the united states.”
--With assistance from Michele Steele and Alex Sherman in New York. Editors: Ville Heiskanen, Anthony Palazzo
To contact the reporters on this story: Andy Fixmer in Los Angeles at firstname.lastname@example.org; Scott Soshnick in New York at email@example.com
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