LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND—It looks like NBCU Olympics, which has produced the storied athletic games since 1964, will be doing it a bit longer, after securing the U.S. broadcast rights to the Olympic Games through the year 2032. In a unprecedented deal whose negotiations were so secretive that that not even members of the NBC Olympics staff itself knew what was coming, senior members of the Comcast negotiating team, (led by CEO Brian Roberts) have agreed to pay the International Olympic Committee (IOC) $7.65 billion.
In 2011 NBCU reached an agreement with the IOC to produce and carry the Olympic Games until 2020 (including the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016, the XXIII Olympic Winter Games (2018) in PyeongChang, and the Games of the XXXII Olympiad (2020) in Tokyo). The new agreement extends that deal for nine more Olympics (from 2021 to 2032), with an added $100 million signing bonus for the promotion of "Olympic values" between 2015 and 2020. The future sites of these added games have not yet been decided.
Brian Roberts, Chairman and CEO, Comcast Corp. (left) and IOC President Thomas Bach seal the deal.
Under terms of the new deal, NBCU has acquired the broadcast rights across all media platforms, including free-to-air television, subscription television, Internet and mobile.
The IOC said it distributes more than 90 per cent of the revenue it generates to support the International Sports Federations; the 204 National Olympic Committees and their Olympic teams; and the Organizing Committees of each Olympic Games.
"This agreement is excellent news for the entire Olympic Movement as it helps to ensure its financial security in the long term, in particular future host cities of the Olympic Games, the athletes of the 204 National Olympic Committees and the International Sports Federations," said IOC President Thomas Bach, who led the negotiations, in a statement. "The IOC has worked in close partnership with NBC for many decades, and we are thrilled we will continue to work with them through to 2032."
After producing 23 Olympic games (the first in Tokyo in 1964) the NBCU Olympics team—led by Dave Mazza, senior VP and chief technical officer of NBC Sports Group and NBC Olympics, who has overseen technical operations for the past 13 Games—has become quite adept preparing and transporting the necessary equipment and systems (by special pre-configured palettes via boat and plane); getting better at it with each games while using the current state-of-the-art technology.
During this year's Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) presented more than 230 hours of Olympic coverage, making it the most Winter Olympic coverage ever on a cable network. Live streaming has also been a growing and important part of the network's strategy of covering the games for several years. What made Sochi digital coverage different from past Olympics was the sheer amount of live streaming available and the rapid evolution of devices people are using to consume streaming and on-demand content—over 1,000 hours of live-streaming coverage.
"NBC's expertise in sports broadcasting, as well as their passion for the Olympic values, will mean we shall be able continue to offer first-class broadcast coverage of the Olympic Games to the widest possible American audience for many years to come," Bach said.
"This is one of the most important days in the history of NBCUniversal," said Steve Burke, CEO, NBCUniversal. "The Olympics are part of the fabric of our company, and we couldn't be more excited that today's announcement guarantees that this massively popular and profitable programming will continue to air every two years on the broadcast, cable, digital and mobile platforms of NBCUniversal for the next two decades.
Burke thanked NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus and NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel, "whose leadership was invaluable in bringing this deal to fruition."
In addition, NBCU also has acquired the broadcast rights for every edition of the Youth Olympic Games through to 2032.
Brian Roberts, Chairman and CEO, Comcast Corporation, added, "Our long-term commitment to and investment in the Olympic Movement are a reflection of our belief in the future of broadcast television, as well as our confidence that our partners at the IOC will continue to deliver great Games and that the Olympics will remain the world's premier sports event."