Cox Communications Inc. has joined AT&T Broadband &
Internet Services and DirecTV Inc. in officially signing up for NBC's Olympic Games cable
package, which includes a $1-per-year, per-subscriber surcharge and long-term renewals for
CNBC and MSNBC.
"We have had a good relationship with NBC for a long
time," a Cox spokeswoman said, "and we were able to reach an agreement with them
that we liked."
At least one NBC Cable official has also said that NBC
closed an Olympics deal with MediaOne Group Inc., which AT&T Corp. is in the process
of acquiring. But MediaOne officials wouldn't confirm that last week.
"We have not discussed the Olympic package with NBC
and, therefore, we have not made any agreements to carry it at this point," a
MediaOne spokesman said.
With Cox, AT&T Broadband and DirecTV alone, NBC would
have roughly 25.2 million subscribers signed up for its Olympics package, which includes
five Games from 2000 through 2008. NBC will carry two-thirds of its Olympics coverage on
CNBC and MSNBC, with the rest on its broadcast network.
NBC Cable Distribution president David Zaslav said he has
done more than 180 charter deals for the Olympics package, but they won't be announced
until later this month. So far, only the AT&T Broadband, DirecTV and Cox pacts have
been made public.
"Our goal was to have one-half of the industry signed
up for the deal a year in advance of the first Olympics," Zaslav said. "We have,
in fact, exceeded our goal, and we plan to make more announcements in the next 30
Some operators have balked at the package because of its
cost. NBC gave operators until July 31 to sign up for the charter Olympics deal. Under
that deal, operators must pay an Olympic surcharge of $1 per subscriber, per year, during
the term of the eight-year contract for the five Olympic Games that NBC has the rights to.
In addition, the deal grants long-term renewals and
license-fee increases for CNBC and MSNBC, starting out with nickel increases for both
networks next year -- to 25 cents per subscriber, per year from 20 cents for CNBC and to
23 cents from 18 cents for MSNBC -- with lesser increases to follow, according to sources.
"The deals we did strike really show that the industry
cares about the value they bring to their subscribers," Zaslav said.
Meanwhile, NBC Cable director of local ad sales Brian Hunt
told cable ad executives at an industry event last week that affiliates will get more than
1,600 30-second units to sell locally during the first Summer Olympics to be covered on
cable. The 268 hours of cable coverage are due on MSNBC and CNBC Sept. 15 through Oct. 1,
Operators will get preliminary Olympics media kits later
this month, Hunt said, with more detailed ones coming in January. "One caveat is that
you can't sign any clients until after Jan. 1," Hunt told the operators, although
talks with prospective advertisers can start now.
Jim Forkan contributed to this story.
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