Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Awhile back, I mentioned that ESPN wasn't ruling out making a run at the Olympics in the near future, and today there comes more word about their intentions. According to USA Today, a run at the contract could come as early as 2014, and the Olympic committee has promised ESPN a seat at the discussion table....
After scoring big with its coverage of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, you'd think NBC would have the inside track on TV rights to the 2014 and 2016 games. But ESPN/ABC will likely be a strong competitor. Without blinking an eye, ESPN outbid Fox by more than $100 million for the rights to college football's Bowl Championship Series (BCS) from January 2011 to January 2014.I'm telling you, ESPN will have every major Sport under their umbrella, sooner than you think. I still don't think the Olympics are as much a money maker as they used to be, but a switch in network could certainly change that.
As it celebrates its 30th anniversary, the once rinky-dink and now incredibly deep-pocketed cable network seems hungrier for the validation an Olympics would bring. "There's no question the Olympics would continue the process of establishing ESPN as the home of championship sports and great sports," Skipper said.
The International Olympics Committee has assured ESPN, said Skipper, that it will have a seat at the table when bidding begins in earnest for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, and the 2016 Summer Games in a still-to-be-determined host city.
To show it has the chops to handle a global event, ESPN will give its 2010 FIFA World Cup coverage the Olympic treatment. ESPN is already planning to send anchors Chris Fowler, Mike Tirico and Bob Ley to South Africa for the entire event, said Norby Williamson, executive vice president of remote/studio production.
"What we're hoping to bring to (the World Cup) is Olympic-quality production," said Skipper. "Not just the cameras but the feel of it. That it feels big. That it feels international. That it feels about more than just competition. It's competition. But it's also culture. And human drama."
ESPN/ABC taking aim at nabbing 2014, 2016 Olympic Games (USA Today)