There’s almost little to no way that NBC will lose the rights to the Olympics, but with Time Warner by their side, CBS will attempt to make that a reality when the Games’ right are up on the block. NBC’s contract will be over following the 2012 Summer Games, and a slew of networks will be vying for the 2014 Winter Olympics, and 2016 Summer Games (possibly held in Chicago). Via USA Today….

CBS Corp. and Time Warner Inc. executives have discussed joining forces to bid on rights to televise the Olympics in 2014 and 2016, turning that competition into an even greater clash of media titans.

TV empires headed by incumbent NBC, Fox and ABC-ESPN have all said they expect to bid for the the U.S. rights. Because of the economy, the International Olympic Committee has said it was prepared to postpone the negotiations until after the 2016 host city was named next October.

If CBS works with Time Warner, competition could be televised on CBS plus popular cable networks TBS and TNT. Time Warner also owns CNN, CNN Headline News, Turner Movie Classics and the Cartoon Network.

The CBS-Turner talks, confirmed by both sides this week to The Associated Press, were only preliminary. No decision has been made about going forward with a bid, said Shirley Powell, a Turner Networks spokeswoman.

Sean McManus, CBS Sports president, said that while the Olympics were undeniably attractive, there’s a danger in thinking the success of Beijing — keyed by Michael Phelps’ eight gold medals and the attractive setting — would necessarily carry over.

I personally believe that last sentence is the key to this whole thing. Phelps probably has one, maybe two games left in him, and to pay for the rights would almost be like rolling the dice. If the 2016 Summer Olympics are held in Chicago, and Michael Phelps is still competing, then the numbers would almost surely pass those of Beijing. If the Games are in Tokyo or Madrid, and Phelps isn’t in the pool, whoever purchased the Olympiad package will be stuck with a Summer much like the Athens Games in 2004.

CBS, Time Warner execs discuss Olympics TV bid (USA Today)

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