Dick Ebersol's announcement that he is leaving NBC Sports shocked the world of sports television on Thursday, but the impact will likely be strongest felt in the Olympics.
Ebersol, who has run NBC Sports since 1989 but said he could not come to agreement on a new contract, was instrumental in the network's bids that landed NBC every Summer Games since 1988, and the past three Winter Games -- more Olympic broadcasting rights than any other network. But now with Ebersol leaving -- he'll reportedly be replaced by Mark Lazarus -- the future television home of the Olympics is unknown.
But answers will come quickly. Negotiations for the rights to broadcast the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro are scheduled for next month, and with Ebersol not attending those meetings in Switzerland, it seems unlikely that NBC will make a big push, especially after the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Under Ebersol, NBC won the rights -- with a winning bid of $2.2 billion -- for both the 2010 Winter Games and the 2012 Summer Games in London, but the victory proved costly: NBC lost $223 million broadcasting the 2010 Olympics, by far the worst performing of Ebersol's eight Olympics.
Without Ebersol, and with Comcast, which bought NBC Universal earlier this year, unlikely to want make a large investment after the financial disaster that was Vancouver, it is safe to assume that NBC's Olympic bid is in trouble, with FOX and ESPN ready to pounce.