NBCUniversal's acquisition of the 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020 Olympics is a major statement from Comcast, says NBC affiliates board chairman Brian Lawlor, about the new owner's commitment to broadcast TV.
"I see that NBC, under Comcast's ownership, is serious about its investment in the right programming to help define the brand," says Lawlor. "NBC has made a commitment to us to show marquee events live, when possible, and over the air, and lead with the highest profile events on NBC broadcast."
Executives from NBCUniversal, ESPN and Fox ventured to Lausanne, Switzerland to bid for rights to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia and the 2016 Summer Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro. NBC also acquired rights to the 2018 and 2020 Games, whose sites have not been determined. The package cost $4.38 billion.
NBC will air the 2012 Summer Olympics from London as well.
As they've done with past Olympics, Lawlor says NBC affiliates will help foot the bill. "The infrastructure exists to help pay for the Games, as we have in the past," he says. "That will continue."
NBC will tackle the Games without production mastermind Dick Ebersol, who resigned last month. Lawlor says NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus is a seasoned sports producer with sterling relationships, and that the commitment of NBC Sports and Comcast to producing top-flight Olympic productions geared toward giant audiences has not wavered.
"I always thought NBC did a great job with the Olympics, making it great family entertainment that's enjoyed by so many," said Lawlor. "We're thrilled to be able to continue with that."