'A Passion for the Olympics'


Dick Ebersol, chairman, NBC Sports & Olympics, has signed a nine-year contract extension that will keep him in his current post through 2012, when he'll turn 65. During that period, the network is scheduled to air five more Olympic games, the rights to which were acquired in unprecedented multi-Olympic packages that he engineered. Under the new deal, he'll continue to report to NBC Chairman Bob Wright.

Ebersol was named president of NBC Sports in 1989 and elevated to his current post in June 1998. In a statement, Wright credited Ebersol with building the Olympics into "the most valuable franchise in television." Ebersol's "guidance over the years has been invaluable to me personally and to every division of the company," he said, "and we look forward to continuing to benefit from his experience and leadership."

Commenting on the new deal, Ebersol said, "After all these years in the business [36 in fact], the only reason I am still doing this, one of the main reasons I wake up in the morning, is a passion for the Olympics."

Separately on the Olympics front, last week, NBC gave its affiliates a first-look presentation via teleconference on the network's plan to bulk up its Olympics Web site, NBCOlympics.com (B&C, 11/17). For the first time, NBCOlympics.com will be integrated with affiliates' Web Sites and will also feature a lot more original material than in the past, including video. One example: Access Hollywood
will contribute feature reports by Billy Bush on goings-on at the games under the Access Athens
banner. The network is spending between $5 million and $10 million to upgrade the Web site as part of a revised network-affiliate "inventory management plan."