NBC gets three more Olympics

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NBC unveiled another long-range Olympics surprise on Tuesday, securing exclusive U.S. TV rights to three more successive Olympics games in 2004, 2006 and 2008. The $2.3 billion deal follows an earlier surprise agreement that yielded NBC exclusive rights to the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney and the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

With the exception of CBS' coverage of the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, NBC will broadcast every Olympics telecast through 2008. Dick Pound, chairman of the International Olympic Committee's Television Negotiations Committee, said the IOC agreed to the unprecedented long-term deal because it has become more crucial to the Olympics movement to have the stability of long-term revenue planning vs. any upside the cyclical TV rights marketplace might produce down the road.

The new NBC Olympics rights are set on a base of the most recent Olympics TV rights deals, adjusted for inflation, and provides a 50/50 ad revenue sharing p>arrangement between the IOC and NBC above those amounts. Based on an annual 3% inflation rate, NBC will pay a minimum $793 million for the 2004 Summer Games, $613 million for the 2006 Winter Games and $894 million for the 2008 Summer Games.

NBC agreed to the rights deals without knowing and without having any input in the selection of the host cities for those three Olympics, which will be deter

mined by the IOC at a future date. NBC said the U.S. coverage would exclude pay TV, but that at least two cable networks, its current CNBC and America's Talking channels, would play a role in the telecasts, though NBC's free, over-the-air coverage would be the predominant Olympics outlet. New media forms, including interactive TV, might also play a role.

The IOC said the portion of the TV rights going to the host cities was being reduced from about 60% to about 49%. Mr. Pound said the IOC also has begun exploring long-term Olympics sponsorships deals with global marketers beyond its current TOP (The Olympic Program) quadrennial sponsorship deals.

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