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February 16, 2022

IOC’s Lumme: Next US broadcast deal not dependent on Salt Lake City hosting in 2034

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it will wait for the best market conditions before assessing its options for selling broadcast rights in the US to future Olympic Games, regardless of whether Salt Lake City bids for the 2034 Winter Olympics.

By Euan Cunningham

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it will wait for the best market conditions before assessing its options for selling broadcast rights in the US to future Olympic Games, regardless of whether Salt Lake City bids for the 2034 Winter Olympics.

The US rights to both Summer and Winter Olympics are currently held by national network NBC, in a major deal which was last renewed in 2014 and runs from 2021-32. The value of that deal is $7.65 billion, and as such it represents the single largest source of revenue of any kind for the IOC.

Now, Timo Lumme, the IOC’s broadcasting and marketing director, has told media that any decision about the destination of the 2034 Winter Games will not affect the next US broadcast deal – set to kick in for that same event.

While Salt Lake City, which hosted the 2002 Winter Games, is considering running for the 2030 event, Japan’s Sapporo is now seen as the frontrunner in that particular race. The Utah city is considerably more likely to land the 2034 games instead.

Lumme told reporters: “At the end of the day what will drive a decision for us are the best market conditions … Of course, there is no decision. There is no hurry.”

He added: “In any case, our sales cycle is not necessarily driven by the appointment of a host city. There are plenty of instances where rights to games are being accorded without the host city being aware.

“We will continue to look at the conditions, and at the right time will go to market.”

Lumme’s comments come in the middle of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China (February 4 to 20).

Milan and Cortina D’Ampezzo in Italy are set to host the 2026 games, with Sapporo one of a number of cities said to be on a shortlist to host the 2030 edition.

Other contenders for the games in eight years’ time are Spain, through a combined Barcelona-Zaragoza-Pyrenees submission, and Canada through Vancouver.

There are also potential bids incoming from Almaty in Kazakhstan, Lviv in Ukraine, and the Savoy region in France.

It is understood that Sapporo’s bid is already seen as a strong effort due to previously having staged the 1972 edition, with the IOC placing emphasis on utilizing already existing infrastructures in order to lower costs.

It is expected that host city status for the 2030 Winter Games will be awarded at the IOC’s 2023 session, with that organization’s Future Host Commission likely to award a city with ‘preferred host city status’ towards the end of this year.

The awarding of the host city for the 2034 games would therefore likely take place in four or five years’ time.

The IOC is currently weighing up potential candidates for the 2030 games and encouraging sustainable and low-cost bids as part of its Agenda 2020 reform program.

In 2019, the IOC substantially altered its rules for the host city bidding process, to reduce bid costs and streamline the system.

Unlike under the previous system, prospective host cities do not campaign. Instead, they are evaluated by a host commission (one each for the summer and winter editions of the games), which then starts extended talks with a smaller number of cities, named ‘preferred hosts’. If there are multiple preferred hosts, the IOC will then vote to decide the final host city at the next available IOC session.

During the opening week of the Beijing Winter Olympics, NBC brought in around 100 million viewers, with 14 million tuning into its linear networks for the opening ceremony – half the total that watched the 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Pyeongchang in South Korea.

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