LONDON -- The IOC has invited U.S. networks to Switzerland on June 6-7 to bid on the next set of multi-billion dollar Olympic television rights, Olympic officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Network executives will travel to International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne to make presentations and submit sealed offers for rights to the 2014 and 2016 Games, with the option of seeking a four-games package through 2020.
Two Olympic officials with direct knowledge of the situation confirmed the bidding dates. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because no official announcement has been made.
The dates were first reported by Sports Business Daily.
At stake are the rights to at least two Olympics -- the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, and 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The IOC has said the networks can also make offers on a four-games package including the 2018 and 2020 Olympics, whose host cities have not yet been chosen.
NBC, ESPN and Fox are expected to be the main contenders.
The IOC postponed the U.S. rights negotiations for more than a year because of unfavorable economic conditions, but believes the time is now right to strike a deal.
In an interview last month with the AP, IOC rights negotiator Richard Carrion said he expected three networks to compete for the contract and that the winning fee will surpass the $2 billion that NBC paid for the 2010 and 2010 Games.
"Clearly, our expectation is for it to be higher," he said.
Carrion, who heads the IOC's finance commission, said the goal was to complete a deal before the IOC general assembly in early July in Durban, South Africa.
Traditionally, the IOC awards the rights for two Olympics at a time, but the networks have expressed interest in the possibility of a four-games deal this time.
In 2003, NBC outbid ESPN and Fox for the rights to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games and 2012 London Olympics. NBC paid $2 billion in direct rights fees and parent company General Electric signed on as a global sponsor in a $200 million agreement to bring the total to $2.2. billion.
NBC is now controlled by Comcast.
"Obviously this is about '14 and '16, but if a bidder wants to make a longer-term commitment and a longer-term deal, we are willing to look at that," Carrion told AP last month. "It will be a minimum of two (games), but it could turn out somebody makes a very compelling bid for four and we take it."
TV rights fees provide the bulk of the IOC's revenue, with the U.S. share accounting for more than half the total. About half the money goes to host cities, with the rest split among the IOC, international federations and national Olympic committees.