prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

An Olympic-sized Effort by NBC

Posted by prof e on August 17, 2012

The Summer Olympic games have come to a close and the 10,000+ athletes and their fans have returned to their 200+ home countries. NBC Sports production personnel will be dismantling their enormous production facilities and shipping tons of equipment back to the US. I was fortunate to be part of the NBC Sports production team in 1988 at the Seoul Summer Olympics. It was a massive undertaking then, but every four years the US Olympics broadcasting team outdoes the previous effort.

NBCUniversal paid dearly for the rights to broadcast the XXX Games to a US audience…somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.18B. They spent hundreds of millions more bringing hours and hours of programming to your TV screen, laptop, tablet and cell phone.

Over a period of 17 days, NBC Universal provided 5,535 hours of coverage spread across NBC, NBC Sports Network, MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo, Telemundo,, two specialty channels, and the first-ever 3D platform. While athletes were setting records in the pool and on the track, NBCUniversal set records of its own. Working with Panasonic, the games in London marked the first time that Olympic sports were broadcast in 3D in the US. To appreciate the size and scope of the Summer Olympic games, this is what their media guide said about the size of the audience:

To deliver the same number of gross household impressions NBC delivered during the 17 days of its primetime Beijing Olympics coverage, one network would have to own the rights and broadcast the Super Bowl, the Academy Awards, the Grammy Awards, the Golden Globes, the AFC Division playoffs, the NFC Championship Game and six games of the World Series all within a 17-day span.

Also from their media guide…


8 Responses to “An Olympic-sized Effort by NBC”

  1. MT said

    Hey, Sam.

    Any idea of how much advertising revenue NBC raked in from their initial $1.8B investment? Honestly, a couple billion for broadcasting rights seems like chump change compared to ROI potential, not to mention the other marketing rights and re-broadcast revenue that rather meager investment foreshadows. If you find that ratio, it’d be worth an update.


  2. sebersole said

    According to industry reports, NBC took in more than $1B in advertising revenue…something never before accomplished for a single TV event. While NBC expected to lose $200M, better-than-expected ratings mean that they may break even. Even at a loss the Olympic’s “halo-effect” makes it a worthwhile investment for a major broadcast network.

    BTW, I made a correction to the initial blog post. It should have been $1.18B for the rights to broadcast the games.

  3. MT said

    Thanks for the insight. I’m wondering still if the reporting isn’t too quietly conservative.

    Also, you might be the man to ask these other questions: Did NBC Universal buy the rights to broadcast in the U.S. alone? If so, how does this work in the international marketplace? Does NBC also own a piece of the marketing pie in the U.K.? Did they simultaneously sell access to “their content” to other media networks abroad, able to make potentially a couple billion in revenue in syndication rights? If not a couple billion, then certainly several hundred million, no?

    From a media manager’s bent, I find it hard to believe 1:1 ratio would convince a CEO the deal was worth the undertaking. They probably strategised for a 1:2 return at least. Maybe the numbers are just preliminary, or, private.

    Also, my cynical side tells me that the network (NBC) smartly made such a play for this year’s games in consideration of local and international psycho-social underpinnings. The gamble that the increasingly politically disenfranchised media-consumers of the U.S. and Euro-zone would opiate via the jingoism of the Olympics seems a safe bet. Said another way, it’s as if that the worse-off the country(ies) become, the higher the ratings rise each year for fat-headed sporting events, like for instance the Superbowl and World Cup. NBC bet a billion two that a lot of couch taters would tune-in to see their prize steers and nanny-goats bring home the blue-ribbons and Gold. Just kiddin’

    With financial sovereignties being utterly destroyed in the non-broadcasted spectacles currently underway, at least the well-entertained proletariat(s) can reliably be trusted to spectate their national identities as if they still existed, I suppose.

    Cheers, mate!

  4. Justin Kitch said

    Justin Kitch,
    I think that this article relates to the media and society because it is informing the public about how much money it really costs to broadcast the Olympics and this just shows how big the Olympics really are. I feel like this has relation to what we have been learning in class because we covered broadcasting in class and in our textbook. I found it very interesting in the amount of money it really takes to broadcast such events as the Olympics and how many people it takes to make these events happen especially the Olympics. I also find it interesting to see the chart and the number of viewers there were for these Olympics. Those are extraordinary numbers and it definitely shows how popular this event is. So overall this relates to the media and society combination because this shows exactly how the media/ (broadcasting) of the Olympics expands through society with how it is shown around the world this would be a good example of active media which is covered in the book and was covered in class lecture.

    Justin Kitch (Media+ Society @ 9:30 Tuesday and Thursday’s)

  5. Michael Liptak said

    Michael Liptak, Media and Society Tuesday and Thursday

    Of course this article relates to our class, it’s showing by the number s how much the cost is to broadcast such a major event like the Olympics. But overall, NBC and mass media ruined the Olympics for almost everyone, yes it’s great being able to pull out your computer and watch any event live but for certain people that had to work during the day or just wanted wait to watch the prime time events with their family, it ruined the events for almost everyone. Reporters and TV networks that were in London reporting live results took away the build up and excitement away from so many viewers. And then with tape delays across the country people on the East coast would ruin the results as well. The Olympics will never be the same with the development of mass and social media

  6. I believe since the Olympics is such a huge part of the world it is necessary to have a variety of ways for it to be viewed, especially since there are so many different devices that are used in many different places. For example, just like we like to watch it at home, soldiers in Kuwait and Afghanistan would also like to view this. I commend the amount of time and effort the different channels put it to make the Olympics successful each year. This relates to media for many reasons but one is because when events like this are broadcasted, they attract a great amount of audience which brings in a great deal money. Another reason this relates to media is because every year the Olympics change in some way, and the media is showing the public these changes which attract more people to stay tuned in on what’s happening.

  7. Valentina B. Coimbra Lou said

    This article is the perfect example of how nowadays media is being well valued. When we are watching TV at home, we have no idea how much work, and money are sustaining all that proccess. It’s a big market, big advertise companies envolved and big eager eyes of a critic public that are waiting for the results, but of course, in the comfort of our homes we never think about the numbers, and just how easy is press the power button and turn on the tv. The feedback’s importance is even more impressive. The right to cover the olympics and how it’s been covered shows who has the monipoly on the broadcasting world, which brings Tv viwers and consequently a lot of advertising, which means lots money. It brings me back to the evolution of tv, and how much it changed, so fast.. In the really beginning of tv, which happened not so long ago, we would never dream about helicopters and so many cameras covering an event. It’s also impressive how bradcasting can transform something into popular or not, and make people more interconnected on whats going on. Can either make people aware, or either alienated. The broadcasting covering of the Olympics, made a lot of people – most part of the population- who does not have not conditions to travel to watch the games, be part of the event, through that simple box called TV.

  8. Katrica Everette Miller said

    The Olympics are an amazing event, I imagine production as challenging and rewarding. I enjoy watching synchronized swimming, it reminds me of production; a team working together in order to provide you with a memorable experience. I also see the business side of the Olympics. NBC had to bring their “A” game for a number of reasons; keep the public’s attention, provide quality coverage, and ensure advertisers that their money was well spent (Turow 531). One area I felt that they could have improved upon was viewing the Olympics online. This was a difficult task as their site was not user friendly (requested login information) and I felt advertising revenue was lost.

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