No matter who wins the bidding for the Olympics, consider the one upside of a world without Dick Ebersol throwing dumpsters of money at a sporting event whose ratings have been declining since the 1990s: you can acquaint yourself with a new, horrible way of presenting the sprawling international sporting event. Remember, if life promises nothing else, it's the surprise of a novel form of incompetence.
If the end of the NBC era makes you sad, though, you get one more round of Ebersol's endless cycle of emotional puff pieces interspersed with the finest technology of the 1970s for London in 2012. (And the expected $200 million plus loss for NBC/Cabletown they're already projecting.)
With CBS already bowing out of the running, the price for the Games should fall to something much closer to their actual retail price since Ebersol, the man who locked NBC into a thousand year contract with Notre Dame football, managed to inflate the price of the franchise all by himself in recent bidding for the Games.
“When the networks went back and revised their presentations, you can bet they also revised their bids, downward,” said one Ebersol confidant. “Knowing Dick’s not going to be there willing to spend a half-billion more than everyone else, the sense is that everyone can sort of dial it down a bit.
That emphasis is ours, but the point stands: with Ebersol gone, FOX and ESPN can now act like adults and bring the IOC's tab for the Games something closer to reality. Both present to the IOC today in Lausanne, and both are expected to put together competitive but fair packages for the 2014/2016 package, and possibly even a megabid including the 2018 and 2020 games, as well.
Sports Business Journal's wonks have FOX leading the way, and oh, how we hope they are wrong. While both ABC/ESPN and FOX would likely take the Olympics into the 21st century by killing the tape-delayed glory of the Ebersol games, at least ESPN would show the games with minimal fuss. FOX would FOX the Games up beyond recognition, including these things that I just made up that you know damn well would happen:
- Digitally superimposed ad space sold on volleyball players' buttocks.
- Sarah Palin, gymnastics commentator.
- The guy from Fringe just hanging out in the woods alongside the cross-country course.
- Frank Caliendo doing a Kim Jong-Il imitation so racist it gets him fired from FOX. Wait, this would actually be fine with me. Please, continue.
- Cartoon Stewie running alongside Usain Bolt, which will then appear in Family Guy as a cut scene where Peter says "Remember that time Stewie ran a race against Usain Bolt and Michael Bolton came in and said 'I'll show you Bolt-on!'"
- Curt Menafee in the opening ceremonies announcing the entry of the countries of "Polandia, Portu-guy, Guitar, Romansylvania, and Russian" to the stadium.
- ROBOTS ON EVERYTHING.
- Joe Buck announcing the death of a bobsledder in a monotone and then apologizing for "that disgusting display."
- Tim McCarver getting into a fistfight with the USA Women's Softball Team, and receiving a concussion. (Again, this is probably a good thing. Also possibly erroneous, since something cannot suffer a concussion if it does not have a brain.)
ESPN might actually just show the games live as they happen. A shocking strategy, I know, but it just might work.