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Original Issue

Delay of Games

Live Olympics sure sound sweet, but are they logical?

You've had it with NBC's tape-delayed Olympics? Well, last week John Skipper—executive VP of content at ESPN, which is certain to bid for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi—told The New York Times, "It's hard for me to imagine, in our culture, not showing events live," suggesting that the times may literally be a-changin'.

With Sochi eight hours ahead of the East Coast, though, a hybrid is more likely. Major events would be shown live on cable, the Internet and mobile devices. Meanwhile, if ESPN does land the rights, says Jay Rosenstein, VP of programming for Headline Media Management and a former CBS Sports VP, "[sister network] ABC would still have stylized presentations for the 55 percent of the prime-time audience that is female. They'd have their storytelling, their personality-driven programming, their figure skating."

NBC has said it would lose upward of $200 million on this year's Games, for which it paid $820 million. Sochi almost certainly will cost less, and the live-and-multiplatform strategy may be the path to a profit.