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Sunday's question of the day: should U.S. broadcasters pay less in the upcoming TV negotiations for the Olympics?

October 4, 2009 | 11:07 am


Given the slow erosion of interest in the Olympics, and the spurning of Chicago for the 2016 bid, should U.S. broadcasters pay less in the upcoming TV negotiations and will they pay less? is Sunday's question of the day. Reporters from around the Tribune family tackle the question of the day, then you get a chance to chime in and tell them why they are wrong.

George Diaz, Orlando Sentinel

The Olympic gravy train has crashed.
With the economy scrambling to find its footing, networks would be foolish to pay the usual exorbitant broadcast fees.
The United States has always cut the biggest check: The most lucrative broadcast rights are the ones awarded here. NBC will pony up 1.181 billion for the 2012 Summer Games. But it’s no coincidence that the International Olympic Committee has postponed negotiations for the 2016 Games.
The IOC isn’t going to be able to squeeze money that isn’t there. And with Rio De Janeiro putting in the winning bid for 2016 _ and Chicago getting squeezed out _ there’s less bang for the buck for U.S. broadcast holders.
There’s a strong perception of elitism at play: The IOC is a European centric group that doesn’t look favorably at Americans.
If they don’t want to play, then it makes no sense to pay.

Diane Pucin, Los Angeles Times

It’s ill-mannered to flaunt wealth but where would the Olympic movement be without the millions upon billions of dollars spent by U.S. networks for television rights? Apparently anywhere but Chicago, which was quickly dumped in the latest Olympic city choice. It might be fun to see what would happen to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) if U.S. networks quit paying big bucks for Olympic rights. What if, say, every time zone away from New York where the Games are held, the U.S. rights holder got to subtract 10 percent of its bid? Just wondering if Chicago would have finished a badly-beaten fourth in the latest race? But ESPN may next enter the Olympic bidding so the IOC has things right where it wants them. Anywhere but the U.S. and with American TV money still paying the bills. At least until U.S. networks play like the IOC guys and flaunt the wealth.

Philip Hersh, Chicago Tribune

There is a widely held misconception that interest in the Olympics is declining in the United States.  If that were true, how could NBC have gotten a 16.2 rating and 28 share for its primetime telecasts of the 2008 Summer Games – highest for a non-domestic Olympics since 1992 and astounding number’s in today’s segmented market – plus tens of millions of other viewers on its cable outlets and web sites?  Yes, any U.S. network would have bid more for a Games in the United States, especially ESPN, thought to have been drooling over the idea of making Chicago 2016 its first Olympics.  But Rio offers a favorable time zone for U.S. networks (one hour later than New York), so they would have intense interest if paying big bucks if the 2016 Summer Games did not come with a booby prize – the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, where an 8-hour time difference from New York and likely logistical nightmares add up to an unattractive property.