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NBC locks up US Olympic TV rights through 2020

By Stephen Wilson

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, June 7 2011 5:30 p.m. MDT

"We were blown away by the presentation," Carrion said. "The passion that this team has for the Olympic Games was very impressive and very evident to all of us. ... I'd be less than honest if I said the numbers didn't come into play. It was all of it.

"Even Bob Costas made a very emotional appeal."

Three weeks ago, NBC's Olympic future looked shaky after Ebersol, who led its coverage for two decades, quit after what he said was a contract dispute with Comcast, which took control in January. Yet, NBC pushed forward under Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and new sports chief Mark Lazarus.

Doubts were also raised whether Comcast would put up big money after NBC lost more than $200 million on the 2010 Vancouver Games and projections of a similar hit on next year's London Olympics. But executives made clear Tuesday they expect to make money on the future games.

"We think this will be a profitable relationship," Roberts said. "I believe we will be profitable and build value for our shareholders."

NBC has been criticized for not showing Olympic events live and packaging its coverage on tape delay for prime-time audiences. Lazarus said the network would offer new options to follow the games live.

"We will make every event available — on one platform or another — live," he said. "It is for television. It is for tablet. It is for mobile. It is for broadband. It is for every now-known or to-be-known or still-to-be-concenived set of rights. It's all encompassing."

Lazarus said NBC plans to air more live coverage of the Rio Games because of the similar time zone to the East Coast. Sochi, in southern Russia, is in an unfavorable time zone for live U.S. coverage.

"Going forward, we have a smart plan that will allow the super fan to watch events live and not detract from the prime-time audience when we are in host cities that time zones make it difficult to be live in prime time," Lazarus said.

Traditionally, the IOC awards the rights for two games at a time, but the networks expressed interest in going for a four-games package. They did so without knowing where the last two will be held. The IOC will select the 2018 host city on July 6. The candidates are Annecy, France; Munich; and Pyeongchang, South Korea. The host of the 2020 Olympics will be chosen in 2013, and Rome is the only official contender so far.

"What was very important was the four-games bid," Carrion said. "That is what put us over the line."

The last time NBC bid, New York was in the running for the 2012 Olympics, which it eventually lost to London. Chicago then failed in a bid for the 2016 Games. NBC is now putting up the money without any U.S. city currently in contention to host a games.

With the deadline for 2020 candidacies set for September, the U.S. Olympic Committee has not announced any plans for a bid.

"If there is a bid coming in 2020 from the United States of America, we would be very happy," Rogge said.

Present at the TV bidding were USOC chairman Larry Probst and CEO Scott Blackmun.

The USOC currently gets a 12.75 percent share of U.S. TV rights deals and 20 percent of global sponsorship revenues, figures many international officials consider too high. Both sides are negotiating a new revenue-sharing deal to take effect in 2020.

The USOC and IOC will renew those talks Wednesday, and say they also hope to have an agreement in place by early July.

AP Sports Writer Chris Lehourites contributed to this report.

Stephen Wilson can be followed at http://twitter.com/stevewilsonap

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