NBC has retained the US Olympic television rights, securing a four-games deal through 2020 worth nearly $4.4 billion, seeing off rival bids from ESPN and Fox.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has awarded NBCUniversal (NBCU) the broadcast rights in the US for the XXII Olympic Winter Games (2014) in Sochi, Russia, and the Games of the XXXI Olympiad (2016) in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, as well as the 2018 and 2020 Olympic Games, which have yet to be awarded to a host city.
NBCU has acquired the broadcast rights across all media platforms, including free-to-air television, subscription television, Internet and mobile. The total agreement is valued at $4.38 billion. That includes $2.01 billion for the 2014/16 Games and $2.38 billion for the 2018/20 Olympics, representing $775 million for Sochi, $1.226 billion for Rio, $963 million for the 2018 Games and $1.418 billion for the 2020 Olympics.
The IOC declined to say how much the other networks offered. But executives with direct knowledge of the proposals told The Associated Press that Fox bid $3.4 billion for four games and $1.5 billion for two, while ESPN offered $1.4 billion for two. It was the first US rights auction since 2003, when NBC secured the 2010 and 2012 Olympics in a deal worth $2.2 billion. That included $2 billion in straight rights fees, plus a $200 million global sponsorship deal with NBC’s former parent company, General Electric. The $4.38 billion figure for four games represents a small increase only in rights fees compared to the previous two-games package
“We are delighted to have reached an agreement with our longstanding partner NBCU,” said IOC President Jacques Rogge. “We received three excellent bids and would like to thank each broadcaster for their presentations. In the end we were most impressed with NBCU, which not only has a track record for broadcasting the Games that speaks for itself, but also has a clear and innovative vision of where it wants to take the broadcast of the Games between now and 2020. We look forward to continuing to build on our already strong relationship beginning in London next year.”
The IOC based its decision on a long-term broadcast strategy aimed at ensuring broadcast of the Olympic Games of the highest quality, maximising exposure across all available media platforms, and securing the financial future of the Olympic Games and the Olympic Movement.
“We had an obligation to pick the best bid on behalf of the entire Olympic Movement,” said IOC Executive Board member Richard Carrión, who, along with IOC President Jacques Rogge, led the negotiations. “We assessed each bid against a thorough set of criteria and believe that the long-term nature of this agreement will not only ensure fantastic Olympic broadcast coverage in the US, but also support the long-term financial stability of the Olympic Movement as a whole. NBCU has proven its worth time and again over the years and we’re very excited to continue working with them.”
The IOC has enjoyed a long partnership with NBCU, and this agreement will mean that by 2020, NBCU will have covered a total of 17 editions of the Games, beginning in 1964.
“We are honoured to continue as the US Olympic broadcaster for the remainder of this decade. The vision for our new Comcast-NBCUniversal was to create new platforms and technologies to distribute the very best content. Every two years the Olympic Games provides iconic content for us to deliver on all platforms. We are proud to continue the rich heritage and long association that NBC has had with the IOC and I personally want to thank President Rogge and Richard Carrión for their long-term trust,” said Brian Roberts, CEO and Chairman, Comcast, parent company of NBCUniversal.
The decision came after two days of meetings held at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, during which ESPN, Fox and NBCU each gave a presentation and submitted their proposals to the IOC. The negotiation process started earlier this year with preliminary discussions conducted with all interested parties. Each proposal was discussed by an IOC delegation chaired by President Rogge.