NBC has won the rights to four Olympic Games through 2020 in a deal valued at nearly $4.4 billion.
In the bidding war that concluded Tuesday, Comcast's NBCUniversal beat out Disney's ESPN/ABC and News Corp.'s Fox Sports for the rights to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the 2018 and 2020 Games, whose host cities have not been selected yet.
In a break with predecessor Dick Ebersol, new NBC Sports chief Mark Lazarus promises to show all events live rather than saving the best for tape-delayed coverage in prime time.
Whether that translates into more live TV coverage on NBCUniversal's broadcast and cable channels will be answered next summer when Lazarus and NBC produce the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.
We will make every event available, on one platform or another, live, said Lazarus during a conference call with IOC president Jacques Rogge Tuesday.
The three networks submitted sealed bids to the IOC in Lausanne, Switzerland on Tuesday. Fox went first, ESPN went second and NBC went last. Tuesday's drama was the first U.S. media rights auction since Ebersol secured the rights to the 2010 and 2012 Olympics for NBC with a $2.2 billion deal in 2003.
Before the IOC made its official announcement, NBC posted a story declaring itself the winner on its website, NBC Sports.com. Fox issued a statement on Twitter congratulating NBC. ESPN said paying more for the Olympics would not have made good business sense for us, on a company web site.
Ebersol, NBC's longtime Olympic TV boss, drew criticism over the years for his tape-delay TV strategy at a time when fans were increasingly able to access Olympic results via other TV networks, the Internet and mobile phones. Ebersol resigned last month after losing a power play with Roberts and Steve Burke, his new bosses at Comcast, which recently completed its takeover of NBCUniversal.