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Thu, Nov 27, 2014

Blog: Is NBC's $4 billion Olympic deal worth it?

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This week, NBC won the right to continue their partnership with the Olympics Games that started back with the 1988 Summer Games and in 2002 the network added the Winter Olympics.

The new contract starts with the 2014 Winter Games in Russia and ends with the 2020 Summer Games at which the location will be determined in a couple of years. The network paid $4.38 billion for the broadcast rights for the previously mentioned Olympics.

Under the current NBC contract, that included last year’s Winter Games in Canada and next year’s Summer Games in London the channel paid two billion dollars for the TV rights. However, the same network lost just over 220 million during the Vancouver broadcast and experts say NBC might lose the same amount during next year’s event.

The “Peacock” network needs to make several changes to their coverage in order to keep viewers interested. For starters, we want more live coverage regardless of the time zone. It does not matter if swimming starts at 3 a.m. U.S. Central Zone, I much rather find out live who won the medals at that time. Then, find out from another network the results of the event before it was shown in prime time. I know the Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding figure skating drama and the “Miracle on Ice” hockey game drew tremendous ratings on tape delay, but we live in a much different time, today. Hey, if the network wants to rebroadcast the event in prime time, I have no problem with that.

During every Olympics, I hear people say they will not watch for one reason or another. It really hurts my feelings, because of all of the hard work these athletes put in with little or no fanfare unless they are professionals to have the chance to represent our country. Full discloser, I did donate a small amount of money to the U.S. Olympic Committee before the 2010 Winter Olympics, but it was before I joined the Murfreesboro Post as a part-time sports reporter.

I have read stories from a generation ago, that people would gather at sports bars to for example to see the ladies figure skating showdown between Debra Thomas and Katarina Witt, or many other events. For many different reasons, people, especially the young people do not get excited about the Games like they do for events like the Super Bowl. That is another challenge NBC has to continue to improve on.

The Olympics have tried to counter that issue by adding more youthful sports like snowboarding and getting rid of more traditional American sports like baseball and softball. Neither sport will be in next year’s London Olympics.NBC has to do a much better job on educating these viewers on the sports and the athletes that they normally do not view. However, they must not wait till a few months until the Games; they have to do it sooner. Also, they have to use more new media to help get the word out, and also teach the history of the Games. Currently, if I want to watch a clip from say the 1996 Atlanta Olympics on YouTube, I only get another country’s network feed. Thank goodness, I have an extensive collection of most of the VHS and DVD highlights that come out a few months after each Olympics. Also, most teenagers only know Bruce Jenner as Kim K.’s stepdad. They need to know that he was also one of America’s greatest track and field athletes, ever.

The final issue is please keep most of the coverage on broadcast television, and not put it on cable. I have to give NBC credit for doing a pretty good job of using all of their networks to make sure every sport is broadcasted. They need to continue to put the key events on the main network, and hopefully this time it will be live, regardless of the time. Although, it is kind of weird that can watch the stock market during the day on CNBC and then after it closes for the day, they will show boxing. It will only get better since they added all of the Comcast regional sports channels like CSS, and the national cable network, Versus, or whatever they decide to call it in the future.

NBC is back for the long run, but they have some work to do. Many people just do not follow the Games anymore, and the “Peacock” station needs to make major changes. If not, the Olympic movement is this country will be done, forever.

 

 

 

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