UPDATED: CBC wins back Olympics, could sub-license to Rogers, Bell

The Olympic Games will return to CBC. The International Olympic Committee says the public broadcaster has won the Canadian broadcast rights to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia and the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. The CBC had broadcast 19 different Olympics for almost 60 years in Canada, most recently the 2008 […]

The Olympic Games will return to CBC.

The International Olympic Committee says the public broadcaster has won the Canadian broadcast rights to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia and the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The CBC had broadcast 19 different Olympics for almost 60 years in Canada, most recently the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.

A CTV- and Rogers-led consortium has taken over since, broadcasting the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and the ongoing Summer Games from London.

CBC and Bell Media, which owns CTV, had formed a partnership last September before submitting two joint bids for the Olympic package, both of which were rejected by the IOC.

A little over a month ago, CBC and Bell Media announced they would no longer submit joint bids for the Games’ media rights.

CBC executive Kirstine Stewart says the CBC’s long-established Olympic track record allowed it to nab the rights for 2014 and 2016 after the two joint proposals with Bell Media were rejected by the IOC.

That deal was said to have fallen apart over money, but Stewart says CBC’s solo bid will not further cut into the public broadcaster’s hefty budget woes.

“We actually made sure that this was, based on our prior experience, a cost-neutral proposal,” Stewart said Wednesday, predicting broad coverage on CBC, SRC and multiple digital platforms.

“This isn’t a deal that’s built to cost the CBC money and in fact, what we’re hoping for is a bit of a profit out of it.”

Stewart says the terms include sub-licensing rights that allow CBC to partner with other networks, such as Rogers Media‘s Sportsnet or Bell Media‘s TSN.

“We will look to see who we might be able to make sub-licensing agreements with so that people have good access to over-the-air and television coverage of the Olympics,” she says, adding those details have yet to be worked out.

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She stressed that the Olympics bid would not exacerbate the CBC’s ongoing budget problems, brought on by reduced federal funding. The broadcaster has already slashed staff and programming in a bid to shave $225 million from its budget.

Stewart wouldn’t say how much the media rights cost but said CBC’s proposal was carefully structured to fit tight financial constraints.

“There are no extra resources, as you know, around to be subsidizing such a thing,” she says.

“So we made sure this is an independent project of its own and we made sure before we even went back to the IOC that we could feel confident that we felt that this deal could be supported in this way because otherwise it would have made no sense to do it.”

CBC/Radio-Canada president Hubert Lacroix called CBC’s winning bid “excellent news for Canadians across the country who will once again experience the Olympic tradition with their public broadcaster,” in a statement.

“We’ve promised Canadians signature events on all our platforms that create opportunities to connect with each other and the country.”

Added IOC president Jacques Rogge in a statement: “CBC/Radio-Canada has a wealth of experience in broadcasting sports and the Olympic Games and we are pleased that we will once again be joining forces with them in the future.”

Bell Media responded the the announcement with a statement from Kevin Crull, its president.

“Congratulations to CBC/Radio-Canada on their successful bid. Broadcasting the Olympic Games has truly been an honour for our entire team. Our focus has always been about growing the Olympic movement and providing the broadest possible exposure on multiple platforms for our remarkable Canadian athletes. We are so proud of the dedication, talent, and commitment our team has demonstrated, as evidenced by record ratings and engagement of Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast for Vancouver 2010 and London 2012.

“We look forward to CBC/Radio-Canada building upon the high standards and expectations that we have established in Vancouver and London. We wish them the very best and offer them our complete support in presenting the next two Games.”

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