Barry Frank, iconic US Olympic TV rights negotiator, dies aged 87

Barry Frank, a leading US television executive and negotiator of Olympic broadcast deals in the US market for the IMG agency, has died aged 87.

Endeavor, the parent company of IMG, said that Frank had passed away on Tuesday.

In a tribute to Frank, Mark Shapiro, the Endeavor president, said: “Barry was a visionary with guts and incredible instincts, seeing what no one else saw and bringing new deals and formats to life with drama, excitement and style.

“His extraordinary talents made IMG what it is today, and his fighting spirit was with him until the end. We will all miss him dearly.”

Having started his career at the US broadcast network CBS, Frank went on to work for advertising firm J. Walter Thompson and ABC Sports before joining IMG in 1970. He was named president of CBS Sports in 1976 and then returned to IMG in 1978.

Internationally, Frank is best known for his work at IMG in helping to negotiate US broadcast rights deals. He gained international recognition for his role in helping organisers sell rights to the 1988 winter Olympics in Calgary, a process that generated $309m from ABC. The fee was over three times the previous record sum paid by a US broadcaster for rights to the winter Olympics.

He went on to lead negotiations in the US market for six more editions of the Olympics. Along with his work with the International Olympic Committee, he also represented rights-holders such as the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, the International Skating Union, the US Tennis Association and Professional Bull Riders.

Frank also represented legendary US sports presenters such as Bob Costas, John Madden and Jim Nantz and created various made-for-television sports programmes, including “Superstars” and “American Gladiators”.

Upon being inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame a decade ago, Frank was described by Sean McManus, president of CBS News and Sports as “probably the most prominent negotiator for sports rights in history”.

McManus said in 2009: “He has been so influential in so many areas, I don’t think that’s going to be duplicated ever again.”