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Comcast has a lot of confidence in Lazarus, and put him in place as a kind of insurance policy in case things didn't work out with Ebersol, Pilson said. Lazarus has the confidence of Comcast executives to make fiscally prudent decisions, he said.
Ebersol also left behind a strong team that was well experienced in the Olympics world, Pilson said.
"The Olympics are much more important to (NBC) than they are to the other two guys," he said. "That much became clear."
What's unclear is how much of the Switzerland game plan was drawn up before Ebersol left and how much of it was organized by Lazarus.
At the news conference following the IOC's decision, Lazarus held fast to the long-held Ebersol view that the main Olympics show comes in prime time for NBC, where marquee events will be broadcast, even if on a tape-delayed basis from Olympics sites in other time zones.
What was different was Lazarus' promise that every Olympics event would be carried live in the United States. Besides NBC, that could mean on cable networks such as MSNBC and USA, or newly acquired ones such as the all-sports Versus network and the Golf Channel, or streamed live over the Internet.
"It's good for the super sports fan, but doesn't necessarily change our strategy with how we build our prime time," Lazarus said.
The NBC deal encompasses broadcast and cable television, as well as streaming coverage on computers, tablets and mobile devices, he said. Anticipating the frantic pace of technological change, NBC also has rights to show the Olympics through 2020 on devices or formats that haven't been invented yet.
Comcast and NBC are happy now, but whether Tuesday's IOC decision represents the coup of Lazarus' career won't be known for several more years. Because the economy and advertising market tanked, NBC lost more than $200 million showing the 2010 Winter Games and some projections have them losing money in London in 2012, the results of rights deals made many years in advance in different economic times.
"We are confident that we will build value for shareholders and have a profitable relationship," Roberts said.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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