[ISN] Microsoft Wins the Winter Games

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Sun Jul 01 2001 - 23:34:22 PDT

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    [Funny, no mention in this article about the security or lack thereof
    inherent in Microsoft products. Whatever group tasked with network
    integrity is surely going to have their hands full with every
    script-kiddie, terrorist, and loon trying to compromise the Olympic
    Games security.   - WK]
    By Terry Lefton
    Jun 27 2001 05:20 PM PDT
    In what marks Microsoft's boldest move yet into sports content, MSN
    and MSNBC will host and produce official sites for the 2002 Winter
    Olympic games to be held in Salt Lake City, sources familiar with the
    deal said Wednesday.
    The decision ends NBC's two-month recruitment for a Web services
    company to produce Olympic sites after financially troubled sports
    portal company Quokka, which originally held the Olympic rights,
    closed in April. The process was further complicated when
    infrastructure provider Logictier, which was to have done the hosting,
    also ceased operations.
    Underscoring the shifting Internet landscape, Microsoft, a partner of
    NBC's in creating the MSNBC television network, is getting the Olympic
    rights for free. Quokka, on the other hand, exchanged millions in
    equity to secure the rights for one of sports most prestigious events
    and one that will generate global interest.
    MSN will host and publish sites for SaltLake2002.com, Olympics.com and
    NBC Olympics.com, the latter of which will be heavily promoted on
    NBC's television coverage of the games. An official announcement is
    expected later this week.
    During the Sydney games, NBCOlympics.com attracted 5.6 million unique
    visitors, while the official site, hosted and produced by IBM,
    received 8.8 million.
    Although Microsoft isn't paying a licensing fee, it will bear the cost
    of hosting and producing the Web sites, according to a source with the
    U.S. Olympic Committee. That could cost the Redmond, Wash.-based
    software giant about $10 million, according to insiders. Microsoft
    agreed to drive traffic to the Olympic sites from various MSN Web
    Representatives of Microsoft and NBC, a unit of General Electric, were
    not immediately available to comment on the deal.
    In the months following Quokka's demise, NBC had been talking to a
    variety of sports-media and technology companies as possible site
    publishers. Among them were Yahoo, CBS/SportsLine and Ignite Media,
    which creates many team sites for the National Football League.
    "The traffic will be enormous and, as one of the highest-profile
    events in sports, it's an asset that should be able to be monetized,"
    said Ignite President and CEO Hank Adams. Given the current difficult
    advertising market, however, it might be difficult to make the effort
    profitable, Adams said. "This will take a Herculean effort for them to
    make sense on a [profit and loss] basis. It could be that Microsoft
    can justify it because they've gotten so many other assets. But it
    will be a real race to sell sponsors before the games start."
    The Microsoft sites will get an inventory of ad space available on the
    sites. Quokka was able to sell about $18 million in advertising that
    was paid for in cash and in kind for the Summer Games in Sydney. MSN
    and MSNBC also get a platform to demonstrate their publishing
    capabilities, should they want to expand that portion of their
    business. Preparing the Olympic sites also gives Microsoft the
    valuable opportunity to bundle ad sales with spaces on its MSN.com and
    MSNBC.com sites. Video rights for Olympic competitions are not
    included, but the sites will stream athlete interviews and commentary.
    The deal also could drive more traffic to the MSN portal, Microsoft's
    main Internet content offering, which is striving to boost its
    international presence. It also will burnish MSN and MSNBC's
    reputations as sports content sites, an area where they have lagged.
    Another incentive for Microsoft might be the use of the Olympic rings
    in MSN advertising. MSNBC, because it is a joint venture involving
    NBC, already had the rights to use the rings. Insiders said
    Microsoft's proposed use of what is arguably the most valuable
    intellectual property in sports was one of the main obstacles delaying
    the deal. Whether and how Microsoft gets to use Olympic logos outside
    of its own Web sites could be the key to the whole deal.
    "They were trying to back into an Olympic sponsorship," said one
    marketing source, familiar with the deal, "but [the Salt Lake Olympic
    Organizing Committee] didn't want to give them up, since [Microsoft
    wasn't] paying for the rights."
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