CBS wins rights to '98 Games

January 19, 1994|By N.Y. Times News Service

NEW YORK -- One month after losing the TV rights to pro football to the Fox Network, CBS will announce today its victory over Fox in securing the rights to the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, for an estimated $375 million.

Winning the Nagano rights provides a crucial jolt of adrenaline and good news to CBS Sports by providing a major event to look forward to so quickly after its failed football negotiations. And last year, CBS lost a last-ditch bid to renew its deal with Major League Baseball and was greatly outbid by NBC for the rights to the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

The $375 million is the most ever paid for the rights to the Winter Olympics, eclipsing the $309 million ABC paid in 1988 for Calgary Games. CBS paid $295 million for

next month's Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.

"We surveyed the lay of the land and decided to do business with CBS," said Richard Pound, the IOC's chief television negotiator. CBS is closely identified with the Winter Olympics; it broadcast the 1992 Games in Albertville, France, and its telecasts of the 16 days in Lillehammer will begin on Feb. 12.

But CBS was essentially the sole bidder. NBC and ABC had dropped out, deeming the expected price tag too steep. And Fox was told by the IOC to cut its teeth on NFC games before bidding on the Olympics. Fox, which knocked CBS out of pro football coverage after 38 years, won the NFC rights beginning next season and lasting through 1997.

The next Olympic rights negotiation will be in approximately two years for the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia.

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