NBC Universal forked over $7.75 billion to keep the broadcasting rights of the Olympics from 2022-2032. Since technology is constantly evolving the contract says NBC can choose how to broadcast the games. They experimented with the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
As the dominant force in Olympic television in the United States since 1992, NBC has shifted from the old-line model that utilized only broadcast television to one that added cable channels to one that, at last February’s Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, embraced live video streaming of all events to computers, smartphones and tablets. NBC, which has swooped to make billion-dollar Olympic rights acquisitions before, is now looking at extending its dominion further than ever. By 2032, nearly all its top executives will have retired.
Sochi was very successful for NBC and 67% of people surveyed said they enjoyed the many ways to watch the games. Sochi is nine hours ahead and the events were mostly finished by the time Americans got off work. But through smartphones and tablets, people watched during the day.
“I’m confident people will watch the Olympics however the technology changes,” Steve Burke, the chief executive of NBC Universal, said in a telephone interview. “But if that ecosystem changes, we have all the rights in every form of exploitation. So if the world changes, we’re allowed to change our way of disseminating the Olympics.”
NBC also utilized their many channels. They interrupted regular schedules on MSNBC, CNBC, and USA Network to broadcast live coverage during the day.
There were other parts that made people tune in during the day and at night. Ice skating is one of the most popular sports in the Olympics and NBC hit the jackpot when they hired Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir as commentators. Both received praise for their commentary, but people also tuned in to see what Weir was wearing and how Lipinski matched him. At night, though, people tuned in, or didn’t, for Bob Costas, but not for the same reasons as Lipinski and Weir. Instead, people wanted to see, or not see, his eye. He contracted pink eye and the infection was worse everyday and eventually spread to both eyes. The eye even spawned its own Twitter account. Costas had to take off for six days.
Rio de Janeiro hosts the next Olympic Games in the Summer 2016.