Disney topper, Comcast chief head to Switzerland
Underscoring how heated the competition will be for the latest round of Olympics rights bidding, Disney topper Bob Iger and Comcast chief Brian Roberts will be flying to Switzerland next week to help their teams pitch to the International Olympics Committee.David Hill will lead his team at Fox Sports as presentations get underway in Lausanne on Monday. The presence of such high-profile execs reflects how important winnning the U.S. rights to the Games have become for the big media companies, even though they are often money losers. For the first time in a while, those rights appear to be up for grabs and no longer a lock for longtime incumbent NBCUniversal. Bids will be accepted for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, and the 2016 Summer Games in Rio De Janeiro, and are expected to be north of $2 billion. It is the first time since 2003 that there has been open bidding; recently-retired NBCU Sports boss Dick Ebersol had struck pre-emptive strikes with winning bids that won over the IOC. Each team will have about two hours to make their presentation to IOC boss Jacques Rogge and other committee members. Fox presents first on Monday. Joining Hill will be Randy Freer, president of Fox Sports Networks, and COO Larry Jones. Disney’s ESPN is up first thing Tuesday morning. Besides Iger, ABC Sports and ESPN chief George Bodenheimer, along with the head of content, John Skipper, will be among those making their presentation. It is believed to be Iger’s first trip as Disney CEO to Olympics bidding. The last presentation will be Tuesday afternoon by NBCU. Roberts, NBCU CEO Steve Burke and NBC Sports Group topper Mark Lazarus (who is taking over for Ebersol) will be making the pitch, assisted by Gary Zenkel, prez of NBC Olympics. Some insiders have suggested that the absence of Ebersol, who had a tight relationship with Rogge and IOC, helps the prospects of the other bidders. Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting, which had mulled making a bid, will not be making a presentation, a spokesman confirmed Tuesday. The winner will be announced by early evening Swiss time on Tuesday, with the timing of a press conference at the discretion of the winning broadcast group.