NBC’s in luck with Olympics going Canuck

Net hopes to parlay proximity

NEW YORK — Talk about a ski lift.

The news that Vancouver had won the bidding for the 2010 Winter Olympics, announced by the Intl. Olympic Committee Wednesday, means that all of the major events will unfold during Pacific time, allowing NBC — which owns the U.S. TV rights to all of the Olympics through 2012 — to create a rich menu of live primetime telecasts.

The Peacock was severely handicapped in 2000 because the Summer Games originated in Australia, resulting in a 15-hour delay that made many of the events seem stale, particularly to people who could check results on the Internet. The delay proved a Nielsen disaster: The Sydney Games wound up the lowest-rated Olympics in decades.

NBC can cite the Vancouver decision as justification for the humongous $820 million license fee it agreed to pay earlier this month for the rights to the 2010 Games, plus another $1.18 billion for those in 2012.

NBC came under fire for what looked like an out-of-control bid, much higher than the offers of its two rivals, ABC/ESPN and Fox, particularly since NBC even added an additional $200 million for the two Olympics in a commitment by NBC parent company General Electric to become a worldwide Olympic sponsor.

The $2.2 billion total in license fees for 2010 and 2012 represents a 47% jump over what NBC will pay for the combined Winter Games of 2006 in Torino ($613 million) and Summer Games of 2008 in Beijing ($894 million).

Vancouver’s winning bid could be bad news for New York’s chances of getting the 2012 Summer Olympics. In the interest of geographical fairness, the Olympic Committee might not want to reward the Western Hemisphere with two Games in succession. The other cities that are candidates for the 2012 Games — Paris; London; Rome; Madrid, Spain; Moscow; Istanbul, Turkey; and Leipzig, Germany — would all deprive NBC of some high-powered live primetime telecasts.

“But I wouldn’t write off New York completely,” said Neal Pilson, former president of CBS Sports who heads his own sports consultancy. Pilson said two Euro cities — Albertville, France, in 1992 and Lillehammer, Norway, in 1994 — got back-to-back Olympics, as will two more European cities later this decade: Athens, Greece, in 2004 and Torino, Italy, in 2006.

David Carter, a principal in the Los Angeles-based Sports Business Group, said circumstances outside the control of the Olympics, like another terrorist attack on Gotham, could induce the committee to steer the 2012 Games toward New York.

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