NBCUniversal gave its strongest indication yet that it would move forward with plans to broadcast 7,000 hours of Tokyo Olympics events even as worries continue over the potential health of attendees and athletes as Japan continues to grapple with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Jeff Shell, NBCU’s CEO, along with other executives present Wednesday at an event designed to preview the company’s plans, suggested a global audience was eager to emerge from an era of forced isolation and enjoy a shared experience and see the event, which has already been postponed by a year. These Games “could be the most meaningful Olympics of our lifetime,” suggested Molly Solomon, the executive producer of NBCU’s Olympics broadcast.
The Olympics are a critical piece of the economic underpinnings of NBCU and its corporate parent, Comcast. The companies paid $4.4 billion for a rights deal that allows NBCU to cover the Olympics in the U.S. through 2020, and agreed to pay $7.75 billion for broadcast rights to the Olympic Games between 2021 and 2032. NBCU came away from its Rio coverage with approximately $250 million in profit. The company was poised to take in more than $1.2 billion in advertising for the 2020 Games before they were scuttled. NBC has spent the last year working with dozens of sponsors to get them to transfer their financial support to this year’s broadcast. During the event, Mark Lazarus, the NBCU executive who oversees the company’s TV and streaming operations, said ad sales had been “robust,” but noted the company still had more inventory to sell. NBCU said it expected to exceed ad-sales levels for its Rio Games broadcast in 2016.
More to come…