With NBC licking its wounds, CBS and ABC have emerged as the front-runners in the race for the Barcelona rights. But the networks will now have to re-sharpen their pencils. As NBC Sports president Arthur Watson says, "No way Barcelona can be projected at a higher rating than Seoul—all of it will have to be taped except for what's on the weekend. They can say, 'O.K., we'll do events at midnight, which is 5 p.m. in the East,' but the athletes will bitch about that, and I don't think that will fly."
CBS, which is currently the third-rated network, may be eager for an Olympics double dip. The network already has the rights to the 1992 Winter Games at Albertville, France, and company president Larry Tisch has plenty of cash to spend from the recent sale of assets. The fact that CBS will have staff and equipment on-site in Albertville. only six hours by car from Barcelona, could save the network $20 million should it get both Olympics—a savings that could give it a leg up in the bidding.
Still, when the closing ceremonies are beaten by a Liberace bio-pic, you have to wonder where the price is headed. Three hundred and fifty million, anyone?