It didn’t quite have the feel of a celebration. But it certainly didn’t feel like a funeral, either.
As ESPN and Fox Sports executives hung out together in the back lobby of the ornate Palace Hotel in Lausanne last Tuesday afternoon — still hours before the International Olympic Committee awarded U.S. media rights to the 2014-2020 Games — both networks figured NBC would be awarded the Games.
Fox executives told SportsBusiness Journal that they suspected their bid would not be big enough before they even traveled to Switzerland. ESPN executives said they viewed their bid as a long shot at best, but thought they might have a chance if NBC, as rumored, submitted a lowball bid.
At best, ESPN and Fox executives thought the IOC might put off making a decision for a few more weeks to try to drive up a bid. But with NBC executives nowhere in sight on Tuesday afternoon — apparently, they were all upstairs in NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke’s suite — ESPN and Fox executives assumed that at least one bid would be big enough.
ESPN and Fox had submitted bids that were well below the $2 billion for two Games that the IOC was expecting. ESPN bid on only two of the Games, offering $1.4 billion. Fox’s bid for two Games was in a similar range: $1.5 billion. Its bid for four Games was $3.4 billion.