CBS-Time Warner Consider Olympics Bid


When it comes to bidding on the rings, it could really be a crowded thing.

Executives at CBS Corp. and Time Warner Inc. have evidently held preliminary discussions about making a joint bid for the U.S. TV rights to the 2014 and 2016 Olympics, according to the Associated Press.

If the parties -- whose respective CBS broadcast network and TNT cable service teamed on the 1992,1994 and 1998 Winter Games coverage -- were to make a play, they would presumably join incumbent NBC, ESPN-ABC and Fox in the battle for domestic rights. 

Ostensibly, a joint bid would enable CBS-Turner to run Olympic fare on an array of channels, much as NBC did with its various cable properties with the 2008 Summer Games from Beijing. In addition to leveraging the full distribution of CBS, which also could put CBS College Sports Network into the mix, a combination with Time Warner could open up such widely penetrated cable networks like TNT, TBS and CNN, as well as other properties like Cartoon Network and TCM, to airing Olympic action.

Interest in Olympic rights were ratcheted up in the wake of the Michael Phelps-propelled Summer Games, which yielded stellar ratings for the Peacock this summer. NBC holds the U.S. rights to the 2012 Summer Games from London.

The International Olympics Committee is delaying the bidding for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia and the 2016 Olympics, until the host city for the latter competition is determined Oct. 2, 2009. The IOC originally planned to hold the auction before the 2016 site was selected, but the struggling economy and the prospects of more cash emanating from a Windy City victory has changed the timetable.

Through a sub-licensing deal with CBS, TNT was the daytime cable home for the 1992, 1994 and 1998 Winter Games from Albertville, France, Lillehammer, Norway and Nagano, Japan, respectively.

According to the AP report, the parties confirmed that preliminary talks have been held, but no decision about whether to make a bid has been made.

A spokeswoman for Turner said:  "Certainly, the Olympics are a very strong sports property and something that we would have potential interest if it made economic sense for our company.

CBS officials could not be reached by press time.