ESPN has signed an agreement with the International Olympic Committee to televise the 2010 and 2012 Olympic Games in South America.
Disney/ESPN has long been named as a likely bidder for U.S. Olympic television rights once NBC Universal's deal expires. The South America agreement is separate from U.S. rights, but the deal could be seen as a precursor to negotiations once the 2014 and 2016 rights come up later this year.
Under the terms of the deal, ESPN acquired the free-to-air TV and radio rights for Argentina, and pay-TV rights for Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay. It also includes satellite TV rights for Venezuela.
The deal is also significant because South America is poised to host its first ever Olympics in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Covering the 2010 and 2012 games could give ESPN a leg up when the rights to those games become available for South America.
ESPN already has a limited relationship with the IOC. Its ESPN Star Sports cable network has rights to the 2010 and 2012 Olympics throughout Asia, though that channel is a joint venture between Disney and News Corp.