The team of executives that put together the deal between the International Olympic Committee and NBC Universal at IOC headquarters on May 7, 2014 in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The Olympic Movement got a big boost — a bump worth $7.75 billion — after the International Olympic Committee announced a broadcast deal with NBC Universal for six more Olympic Games through 2032. The pact, which had been kept under tight wraps, was announced Wednesday in the Olympic headquarter city of Lausanne, Switzerland.
NBC Universal inked the deal with the IOC irrespective of where the Olympic summer and Winter Games will be held from 2022 through 2032, although the United States Olympic Committee has been very public in seeking a bid city to play host to the 2024 Games.
Larry Probst, the USOC chairman who became an IOC member in September, referred to the NBC contract extension as a “terrific deal” but cautioned that the 2024 bid remains a continuing process. Probst said the USOC hopes to have a decision on a bid city by the end of the year, if it does decide to proceed ahead with a bid at all.
IOC president Thomas Bach said that the deal shows “the great Olympic spirit of NBC” considering it sought such a long-term deal even before the upcoming host cities have not been named.
“This is a happy day for the whole Olympic Movement,” Bach said. “I am very pleased with the agreement we reached today.
“The Olympic Games are in good hands with a good, long-term partner,” Bach added.
One reason the IOC is celebrating the mega-deal is that the IOC distributes more than 90 percent of the revenue it generates to support the International Sports Federations; the 204 National Olympic Committees and their Olympic teams; and the Organizing Committees of each Olympic Games.
According to a news release outlining the agreement, in addition to the $7.65 billion NBC Universal will pay for the media rights, it will pay $100 million “to be used for the promotion of Olympism and the Olympic values between 2015 and 2020.”
In addition to securing the media rights for the Olympic Games, NBC Universal also acquired the broadcast rights for every edition of the Youth Olympic Games through to 2032. The next Youth Olympic Games are set for August 16-28 in Nanjing, China.
The sites for the Olympic Games have been announced through 2020. The next summer Games will be in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, followed by the Winter Games in PyeongChang in South Korea. The 2020 summer Games will be in Tokyo. In addition to possibly bidding for the 2024 Games, the United States has expressed some interest in possibly bidding for the 2022 Winter Games, although the summer Games appear to be more of a priority.
The United States has not hosted a summer Games since 1996 when they were held in Atlanta. The last Winter Games on U.S. soil were held in 2002 in Salt Lake City.
NBC made its debut as the American broadcaster of the Olympic Games in 1964 when they were held in Tokyo and competition from those Games was shown to U.S. audiences in black and white.
In 2011, NBC Universal won the television rights for the 2014 and 2018 Winter Games and the 2016 and 2020 summer Games. The entire package for the rights was $4.38 billion, which at the time was the most expensive television rights deal in Olympic history.
For those rights, NBC competed in a bidding war with ESPN/ABC and FOX. This time, they were the only player considered.
NBC said it had been so pleased with its results from the London 2012 Olympic Games and the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games — the two NBC produced as NBC Universal — that it knew it wanted a long-term deal.
The Games in London were the most-watched event in the United States with 217 million viewers. The Winter Games in Sochi averaged a primetime viewership of 21.4 million, which was down from Vancouver (which featured more live-event coverage) but up 6 percent from the Winter Games in Torino, Italy, in 2006.
“The Games are very important pieces of real estate,” said Mark Lazarus, chairman of the NBC Sports Group.
News of the deal spread quickly through social media. Among those excited about the deal is Olympic swimming champion Rowdy Gaines, who won all three of his Olympic gold medals on U.S. soil when the Games were held in Los Angeles. Gaines has been a swimming broadcaster and the Rio de Janeiro Games will mark his seventh with NBC.
“(NBC’s) passion for the Olympic Movement and insight to what it takes to become an Olympian has given them the perspective of a family member to the Olympians and Olympic family,” Gaines said.
NBC’s swimming coverage has been a huge part of the Games, especially since 2008 when Michael Phelps broke Mark Spitz’s record by winning eight gold medals in one Games. In 2012, Phelps came back to become the all-time winningest Olympian with 22 medals.
Phelps had initially planned to retire after the Games in London but last month returned to competitive swimming in Mesa, Arizona, and appears to have the Olympic Games in Rio on his radar for 2016.
Can he keep on going until NBC’s pact expires in 2032?
Said Gaines, “We can only hope!”
Amy Rosewater is a freelance writer and editor for TeamUSA.org. A former sports reporter for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, she covered her fifth Olympic Games in Sochi. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today.