TV Gears Up for 2010 Winter Olympics

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA: NBC is preparing to lose money on the 2010 Winter Olympics, while Canada’s broadcasters gear up for unprecedented coverage. NBC will run 835 hours of Olympics coverage for the February event, around twice that of the network’s previous winter Games. (The Olympic torch travels toward Vancouver at left.)

The American network paid $2.2 billion for broadcast rights to the Vancouver Games and the 2012 Summer Games in London. It paid $894 million for exclusive U.S. broadcast rights for the 2008 Beijing Games. Despite drawing a record audience and generating more than $1 billion in revenue for the network, NBC lost around $150 million on the Beijing Olympics. The network has broadcast the Olympics in the United States since 2000, when it paid a total of $5.7 billion for the rights through 2012.

Reporters at the TV Critics Press Association event Sunday quoted NBC Olympics Executive Producer Dick Ebersol saying that initial ad sales for the Games were slow but picking up. He said the network would nonetheless likely incur a loss, even as advertisers prepare huge campaigns.

McDonald’s will feature several Olympic athletes in its ads and on posters and packaging in franchises, The New York Times said. Coca-Cola is creating a special ad campaign for its Vitamin Water line, a Target is using U.S. snowboarder Shaun White in its ads.

The Vancouver Games are now 30 days away. Concerns about weather are dominating much of the news today. The resort that will be used for the skiing and snowboarding competition next month has been closed done to preserve the snow, Bloomberg reports. The closure come more than two weeks earlier than planned. Temperatures in the area are said to be twice as high as normal.

Fair weather or foul, Canadian broadcasters are planning unprecedented, multiplatform coverage of the first Olympics on Canadian soil in 22 years. Canada’s CTV will, for the first time, carry complete event coverage at The network itself will carry live of top stories and all Canadian medal victories. French-language network V will do the same. Extended TV coverage will be carried on The Sports Network, Réseau des sports and Rogers Sportsnet. RSN will carry French-language coverage of all events at CTV News will provide additional coverage of the events.

The networks belong to Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium, which also includes several other cable networks as well as radio stations and The Globe. The group will collectively cover “every second of every competition live,” according to CTV Olympicsnews.

In all, the consortium will provide 4,800 hours of coverage in 22 languages on 12 TV channels, 20 radio stations and two dedicated Web sites. Television will comprise 2,250 hours of coverage, all in hi-def. The Web sites will carry 2,350 hours, and radio will broadcast 200 hours of coverage.

Mobile, live streaming of men’s and women’s hockey and Game highlights will be available through Bell Mobility. Cinematic coverage will be carried at 64 theaters throughout Canada.

The Vancouver Winter Olympics begin Feb. 12 and run through the 28th. -- Deborah D. McAdams

More on the Olympics:
December 16, 2009: “IOC Looking at $2 Billion for U.S. Olympics Rights
The International Olympics Committee is expecting three U.S. networks to bid more than $2 billion for the next available winter and summer games. The 2014 Winter Olympics are to be held in Sochi, Russia; the 2016 Summer Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro.