NBC Pays $7.65 Billion to Extend Olympics Rights to 2032

Turned a Profit in Sochi

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The Olympics give NBC a big platform on which to promote the rest of its schedule.
The Olympics give NBC a big platform on which to promote the rest of its schedule. Credit: NBC

NBC will be home to the Olympics through 2032, paying $7.65 billion to extend its U.S. broadcasting rights to the games for 12 more years.

The agreement with the International Olympic Committee covers broadcast, pay-TV, mobile and web viewing, the organizer of the games said today in a statement. An added $100 million signing bonus paid by NBC, a unit of Comcast Corp., will promote the Olympics movement.

NBC is extending its current deal, which ends in 2020, after turning a profit on the Sochi games in February -- no easy feat since the rights are so expensive. The broadcaster, which has aired all Olympics coverage in the U.S. since 2000, broke even on the 2012 games in London.

"The IOC has worked in close partnership with NBC for many decades, and we are thrilled we will continue to work with them through to 2032," International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said in the statement.

NBC paid $4.38 billion for the rights to the Olympics from 2014 to 2020. The Comcast unit reported last month that it got $1.1 billion in revenue from the Sochi games. That surpassed its $875 million in investments to cover the event in Russia, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

In the new deal, NBC paid an average of $1.28 billion for each Olympic games, a 16% increase over the previous agreement, when it paid an average of $1.1 billion.

Tokyo will host the 2020 games, the furthest Olympics on the calendar to have selected a location.

Broadcasting the Olympics also helped NBC pull in viewers for other shows, aiding ratings for programs such as "The Tonight Show," whose hosting duties were handed to Jimmy Fallon earlier this year from Jay Leno. NBC said last month that it expects to return to the No. 1 spot in the ratings among 18-to-49-year-olds when the TV season finishes, ending a decade-long drought.

Of course, the network's recent improvement was also heavily aided by "The Voice" and rising NFL ratings, and NBC has also broadcast the Olympics in years when it didn't do so well.

Social Olympics
In London two years ago, NBC found that sharing on Twitter and Facebook generated interest in broadcasts that aired hours later in prime-time. At the Sochi games, the network increased the hours being live-streamed by 42%, and struck a deal with Twitter Inc. that let smartphone users record events like ski jumping to watch when they get home.

NBC has given Comcast, the largest U.S. cable company, an alternate source of revenue even as it expands in pay-TV with the acquisition of Time Warner Cable. The broadcaster represented about 37% of sales for Philadelphia-based Comcast last year.

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