The hits just keep coming. Now comes word from Richard Sandomir of the New York Times that NBC Sports head honcho Dick Ebersol is resigning. From Sandomir’s Twitter page…
This news is breaking by the minute and is huge for sports on television everywhere. Ebersol had been President of NBC Sports since 1989 and one of the biggest movers in the industry for a long time. NBC has struggled to get a foothold in the recent sports television rights wars, losing out on properties like college football and others. Could Ebersol’s resignation be a sign that NBC will now lose the Olympics to an aggressive bid from ESPN and a sign that the NBC/Comcast sports group may not be able to compete with the leader as envisioned? Interestingly, the New York Post published this in April…
As US television networks put the finishing touches on Olympic TV rights bids due next month, there’s growing friction between NBC Universal’s longtime Olympics chief, Dick Ebersol, and network brass, sources tell The Post.
“This is a big test of what Dick’s role is,” said one source, talking about how free a rein new NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke will give to Ebersol, who has headed every US Olympics programming effort since 2000 and every Summer Games TV effort since the 1988 Games in Seoul.
Executives from each of the competing TV companies are expected to detail plans for broadcasting the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia, and 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Companies can also bid on a package of four Games. The winner will be selected in the second half of June.
If NBC Universal isn’t victorious, some believe Ebersol will opt to retire.
This is big, big news, and we’ll make sure to follow it as the story develops.
***Update: Here’s the complete story from Sandomir in the New York Times.
***Update II: Mark Lazarus, President of NBC Sports Cable Group, will take over for the departed Ebersol. That information and a statement from Ebersol on his departure are at USA Today.