On the same day that NBCUniversal announced it has picked Jim Bell to executive produce coverage of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London comes a report that former NBC Sports guru Dick Ebersol is returning to the fold in an advisory role, first on NBC’s Sunday Night Football and then for the London games. The New York Times reported that he will be special adviser to the network, reuniting him with current NBC Sports Group boss Mark Lazarus, whom Ebersol brought to NBC, and Bell, whom Ebersol hired as a production assistant for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Of course, Ebersol was the man behind bringing the NFL and the Olympics to NBCU, where he was a fixture until he left in May following a contract dispute with new owners Comcast. It’s unclear whether Ebersol had any behind-the-scenes sway back in June, when NBCU won the bidding for U.S. broadcast rights to the next four Olympics, which gives the network the games through 2020.
After the shocking exit of NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol last week, a not-so-shocking aftershock: His loyal deputy, NBC Sports president Ken Schanzer, today announced he is retiring after 30 years at NBC. He will stay through the summer, a crucial period for securing rights to the 2014 and 2016 Olympics, whose bids are due soon. Schanzer has run the day-to-day operations of NBC Sports since being named president in 1998 and recently orchestrated the network’s 10-year, $2 billion dollar deal with the NHL. “It has been the greatest privilege of my professional career to have contributed to the growth of NBC Sports and to have worked with so many prodigious people,” Schanzer said in a statement. “It’s comforting to know that when I leave at the end of the summer, the NBC Sports Group will be in the hands of (chairman) Mark Lazarus and all the talented people here who have meant so much to me throughout my career.”
International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said today that Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts and NBCUniversal bosses Steve Burke and Gary Zenkel have assured him that the resignation of NBC Sports & Olympics president Dick Ebersol does not alter NBC’s plan to bid on the next round of U.S. Olympic broadcast rights next month, a competition that is expected to include ABC/ESPN and Fox. Rogge told the Associated Press that the news of Ebersol’s departure was a “shock,” certainly in part because the move comes less than three weeks before the IOC opens bidding in Laussane, Switzerland, on deals for the 2014 and 2016 Olympics. It’s a process Ebersol has overseen countless times for NBC, which has broadcast every Summer Olympics since 1988 and every Winter Games since 2002. (In 2003, NBC won the current rights package with a $2.2 billion bid to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics — the network reportedly lost $200 million on that one — and the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympics in London.) ”The three reiterated the full support of NBC/Comcast for the Olympic movement and the Olympic Games,” Rogge told AP. “They said they would come for the bidding. They … made it very clear that the resignation of Dick had absolutely nothing to do with the bidding.”
With Comcast’s acquisition of NBC Universal completed, the newly formed NBC Sports Group – which consists of NBC Sports, Golf Channel, VERSUS and 11 Comcast regional sports networks – this morning unveiled its executive structure under chairman Dick Ebersol. Turner veteran Mark Lazarus, who has long been rumored to take run the new group’s cable properties, is the only outsider on the team, while NBC Sports execs are being given the reins of Comcast’s Versus and Golf Channel. Here is a rundown of the new exec hierarchy:
NBC Sports & Olympics chairman Dick Ebersol; ET host Mary Hart, who is retiring from the entertainment newsmagazine after 30 seasons; veteran talk show host Regis Philbin and RTL CEO Gerhard Zeiler will receive NATPE’s 8th annual Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Award. It will be presented on Jan. 25 during the NATPE 2011 Market & Conference in Miami.