ESPN and NBC both offered praise to Rio de Janiero for winning the bid to become the host city of the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Rio was considered to be the favorite, along with Chicago, in the vote before the International Olympic Committee today in Copenhagen. However, the U.S. entry received the fewest votes during the initial round. Tokyo was the next contender to be eliminated, leaving Rio and Madrid as the final candidates. In the last round of IOC member voting, Rio topped Madrid by a 66-32 count.
"We offer our sincerest congratulations to the people of Rio de Janeiro on being selected to host the 2016 Olympic Games," said NBC Sports and Olympic chairman Dick Ebersol in a statement. "This is a great moment not only for Brazil but also for all of South America - which has not hosted an Olympic Games in the history of the Olympic Movement."
An ESPN spokeswoman noted that Brazil would host a trio of top sporting events in the next decade.
"This is great for Brazil. It will have the Confederations Cup in 2013, the World Cup in 2014 and then the Summer Olympics," she said, noting that the programmer has had a presence in the nation for 20 years with a pair of networks, ESPN and ESPN Brasil, which presented the 2008 Summer Olympics, as well as broadband service, ESPN360.com.
Asked about the company's interest in bidding for U.S. TV rights to the 2014 Winter Olympics and 2016 Games, now that Chicago isn't in the picture, the spokeswoman said: "The Olympics is a great property and there are certainly a number of ways that it would very well for our networks. We want to look and see if it makes financial sense, depending on the valuation it gets."
NBC and ESPN officials both pointed to Rio's time zone -- located on the east coast of Brazil, it's one hour ahead of the eastern time zone in the U.S. -- as one that would be conducive for live telecasts in primetime.
NBC has televised all of the Summer Games in the U.S. since 1988 and the Winter Games since 2002. It paid some $2.2 billion, including some $200 million by parent GE to become a worldwide Olympic sponsor, for the rights to the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and the Summer Games in London during 2012.
The IOC may hold the bidding for the U.S. TV rights to the 2014 and 2016 Olympics, after the conclusion of the Vancouver Games in February.
Ebersol, speaking on CNBC after the IOC vote earlier this afternoon, said that having the 2016 Games would likely result in a 15% to 20% reduction in advertising revenues.