The prospect of no Canadian television coverage of the next Winter Olympic Games in Russia and the 2016 Summer Games in Brazil is not a pleasant one, but I could live with it. I say this even though I have watched virtually every broadcasted minute of most Olympic games, and would do so again if given the chance.
I do, however, sympathize with the Bell-CBC folks whose joint bid of about $70-million for the Canadian broadcast rights to the 2014 games at Sochi, Russia and 2016 games at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was rejected by the International Olympic Committee.
The IOC reportedly received an astonishing $153-million for the Canadian rights to the Vancouver and London games from, primarily, Bell Media and Rogers Communications. And, although Bell and Rogers sold a reported $190-million in advertising for Vancouver, the deal was a money loser—losses are estimated at $20-million to as high as $80-million. Furthermore, the London Olympics scheduled for this summer are also expected to lose money.
For rights holders in Canada, the biggest money maker of the Winter games, apparently, is the hockey tournament, but only so long as NHL players participate—not at all a certainty for the Russian games.
And, since the IOC will not accept a two-offer bid: one with NHL players participating and one without, the Canadian broadcasters, believing NHL participation is only a 50-50 proposition, decided to bid about half what they paid for the Vancouver-London games.
A group of Australian broadcasters, apparently, offered $35,000 for rights to the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul and another low-ball bid for the Winter Games in Calgary. They were turned down flatly by the IOC. It is clear, therefore, that the IOC is rich enough to forgo the $70-million Canadian low-ball bid to protect its market.
Frankly, I hope our TV people stand fast and play tough on this one. We can always watch the NBC feed.