Perhaps buoying TV networks as they bid on rights for future Olympics, a major advertiser has committed to serve as a sponsor of the Games through 2020.
Visa has inked a deal as a worldwide sponsor covering the 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020 events. It is already on board for this winter's Vancouver games and the Summer competitions in London in 2012.
Visa's deal with the International Olympic Committee does not require it to run ads on U.S. television during the events, but it has consistently been a presence there. The company would be unlikely to sign the new deal without the intention to do so. Visa would not comment on plans for the Vancouver event.
Bidding by NBC Universal and ESPN to acquire broadcast rights to the 2014 Winter Games in Russia and 2016 Summer Games in Brazil could begin soon. Commitments by major marketers like Visa for so many years ahead underscores the Games as a marquee property.
Whether they make any money -- even with flush ad dollars -- is a matter of some debate. NBCU said it made a slight profit on last year's Beijing Games, although it declined to offer specifics. Last month, News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch said media companies carrying the Games have yet to turn a profit -- and his company likely would not bid on a package for the 2014 and 2016 events.
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes at the recent "TVWeek Innovation360" conference effectively dodged a question asking whether TW might link with CBS in a joint bid.
Profits can be tough to come by because production costs and other expenses are so high.
Visa has been a worldwide Olympic sponsor since 1986. Part of its marketing efforts include promoting its card as the only one accepted at the Games.
"The Olympic Games deliver tremendous global exposure and access to virtually every demographic group," states Antonio Lucio, Visa's CMO, adding they "also deliver tangible and proven business building benefits to Visa, its clients and partners."