Monday
Aug172009

USOC Pulls Plug On TV Network Under Pressure From IOC, NBC

August 17, 2009: Unveiled with great fanfare in July, the Olympic TV network being developed by the U.S. Olympic Committee has been shelved, at least for the time being.

The USOC came up against major obstacles in the form of the International Olympic Committee, which expressed its concerns almost from the moment the USOC announced its TV plans, as well as NBC, which has the U.S. rights to broadcast the Olympic Games through 2012, with plans to bid on the Winter 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia, and the 2016 Summer Games. The problems raised by the USOC's TV plans also could have had a major impact on Chicago's attempt to become the host city for the 2016 Games, which the IOC will name in October.

"IOC President Jacques Rogge and I met in Berlin to discuss a number of matters of importance to the Olympic Movement, but primarily the US Olympic Network," Larry Probst, chairman of the USOC, said in a statement. "The meeting was productive and positive and was an opportunity for me to underscore the USOC's commitment to working together with him and the IOC. We recognized the necessity and importance of finding new ways to grow and develop the Olympic Movement, especially amongst youth."

Expected to launch in 2010, the network would have broadcast year-round and used multiple platforms, including TV, VOD and online. USON would have provided a "window into the quests of American athletes to reach the pinnacle of their sports," per the USOC. Reaction to the news from the IOC was not favorable. "They just do what they think they want to do, and the Olympic movement be damned," Richard Carrion, the IOC Finance Commission chairman in charge of negotiating U.S. broadcast rights beyond 2012, was quoted in the Chicago Tribune and elsewhere. "I think it's just unilateral and, frankly, somewhat arrogant."

According to Probst, "I took the opportunity to stress our commitment to being good partners with the IOC and assured President Rogge that we will secure the full support and cooperation of the IOC before we move forward with the Olympic Network. In order to facilitate a productive dialogue, the USOC has decided to delay further development of the Network until we have resolved all issues of concern to the IOC. President Rogge and I agreed to meet again soon and to continue these constructive and mutually beneficial discussions."

Patrick Ryan, chairman and CEO the Chicago 2016 bid organization, welcomed the USOC decision.“We applaud Larry Probst and the USOC for making a strong statement of partnership by stating that the USOC would secure the full support and cooperation of the IOC before moving forward with the Olympic Network," Ryan said in a statement. “It is important not only for the USOC and IOC relationship, but also for the USOC's role within the Olympic movement."

US Olympic TV Network Draws Wrath Of IOC

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