NBC rewards stateside Olympics viewers by extending its biennial flopping for an additional 12 years
NBC Universal pays $7.75 billion for Olympics through 2032
Nancy Armour, USA TODAY Sports 3:20 p.m. EDT May 7, 2014
The International Olympic Committee doesn't want anybody but NBC.
The IOC announced Wednesday it had agreed to a $7.75 billion deal with NBCUniversal for broadcast rights to the Olympic Games through 2032. Instead of putting the rights up for bid as it usually does, the IOC quietly approached the network in November about an extension.
NBC got caught in a bidding war with Disney's ESPN/ABC and News Corp.'s Fox Sports when the rights were up for bid three years ago.
"The confidence and the reliable promotion of the Olympic Games and the Olympic values, it's key. This is why we wanted to build on our long-term partnership with NBC," IOC President Thomas Bach said on a conference call. "We could be sure and we are sure that the Olympic Games will be presented in a way that the Olympic spirit requires and how we see."
The deal covers six Olympics, from 2021 to 2032, and gives NBC rights to all media platforms including TV, internet and mobile. NBC's previous agreement, negotiated in 2011, included four Olympics through 2020 and cost the network $4.4 billion.
The agreement includes a $100 million signing bonus to be used for "promotion of Olympism and the Olympic values" between 2015 and 2020.
"This kind of deal is not only about money," Bach said. "Maybe in one deal you can make one or another dollar more, and afterward you can have your product destroyed. We're thinking long-term in the IOC. We are here for 120 years, and we want to be there much longer and we want to leave a good legacy."
Even with the hefty price tag, NBC gets its money's worth, Comcast Corp. chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said. The London Olympics were the most-watched in U.S. television history, with 217 million viewers, while Roberts said the Sochi Games in February were the "most consumed."
"The level of investment we made in 2011, combined with this investment, shows the value we see in this property. It also shows the returns we're able to garner," said Mark Lazarus, chairman of the NBC Sports Group.
NBC's deal is easily the largest of any of the IOC's broadcast partners, and that money helps keep the Olympic movement afloat. Some of the money will be used to help pay for future games, Bach said, as well as providing funds to national organizing committees and international sports federations.
Given NBC's largesse and that of other big U.S. sponsors like Coca-Cola, Visa and McDonald's, critics have said it's time the IOC does something for the United States. Not only has there not been an Olympics in the U.S. since Salt Lake City in 2002, but New York and Chicago were humiliated in their bids for the 2012 and 2016 Games.
The U.S. Olympic Committee is considering a bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics, and chairman Larry Probst said they hope to make a decision by the end of the year.
"We certainly would be supportive of a games in the United States or North America. We certainly think it would be good for our business," Lazarus said. "But this deal was made without the knowledge of where games will be at."
A U.S. bid in 2024 would "obviously be very much welcome, and would be a strong competitor," Bach added.