ESPN is interested in acquiring the television rights to the 2014 and 2016 Olympics and would carry more of them live, regardless of the time zone, than NBC traditionally has done.
"Our DNA is different than theirs," John Skipper, ESPN's executive vice president for content said by telephone on Tuesday. "We serve sports fans. It's hard in our culture to fathom tape-delaying in the same way they have. I'm not suggesting it wasn't the smart thing for them to do, but it's not our culture. We did Euro 2008 in the afternoon. We've done the World Cup in the middle of the morning. We have different audiences."
If ESPN follows its Euro 2008/World Cup model, the live feeds would be carried to all time zones; when NBC shows events live in prime-time, they are seen in real-time in the Eastern and Central time zones, not in the Mountain and Pacific zones.
"It's a beautiful property and NBC's done great with it," Skipper said.
The International Olympic Committee has not set a date for selling the TV rights to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, and the 2016 Summer Games, whose host city will be chosen in October 2009 from Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and Tokyo.