The Olympics will stay on NBCUniversal for the foreseeable future.
NBCU and the International Olympic Committee reached a new 11-year extension on its rights deal that will maintain NBCU as the U.S. home for the Games through 2032.
NBCU’s current deal was set to expire following the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The new agreement includes the 2024, 2028 and 2032 Summer Games, and the 2022, 2026 and 2030 Winter Games.
The deal is valued at $7.65 billion, plus an additional $100 million signing bonus to be used for the promotion of Olympism and the Olympic values between 2015 and 2020. “It tells you that the Games are very important piece of media real estate in the U.S.,” said NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus, during a conference call with reporters.
The $7.65 billion, which spread across six Games averages to $1.28 billion each (though Summer Games fetch a higher price than Winter), is seen as a bargain deal for NBCU in a market where live sports rights have been raising dramatically due to their DVR-proof nature. This deal appears to maintain the status quo; NBCU is paying $1.23 billion for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio and the four-Olympics rights deal was valued at $4.38 billion overall.
IOC president Thomas Bach argued the deal was an improvement; he said that over the last two or three Olympics, the deal represents a $1.4 billion increase. "This is not small,” said Bach. “This kind of deal is not only about money. You can maybe in one deal make a dollar more, but have your product destroyed.”
Unlike in 2011, when the previous rights deal with NBCU was agreed upon, the IOC didn’t put the U.S. rights out for bidding. During the call Bach said that negotiations with NBCU began informally back in November. He explained the reason for the early renewal was due to confidence in NBCU, which has carried every Olympics since 2000.
“This is a unique sports property and we’ve been fortunate to be profitable,” said Brian Roberts, chairman & CEO of NBCU-parent Comcast, during a conference call with reporters. “This long term partnership allows you to invest and innovate.”
Lazarus argued that securing Olympic rights through 2032 allows them to best keep up with whatever enhancements in technology might come down the pike over the next decade-plus.
With the United States not having hosted an Olympics since 2002 (Salt Lake City), the executives on the call were asked if the deal helps in any way the U.S. secure one of the next games. The next Olympics up for bidding is the 2022 Winter Games, though United States Olympic Committee chairman Larry Probst said the USOC is focused on the 2024 Summer Games. He said they are still meeting with multiple cities and expect to zero in on a smaller number in the next six or seven months.
While a U.S.-set Olympics would provide NBCU the chance to offer more events live - for which they have come under fire in the past two Games – Lazarus said it doesn’t matter much where the Games are held. “Our success with the games has never been contingent on the location of those games.”
NBC has continued to average robust primetime viewership. This winter’s Sochi games averaged 21.4 million viewers while the 2012 London Games averaged 31.1 million.