The network paid $775 million for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia; $1.226 billion for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro; $963 million for the 2018 Winter Games; and $1.418 billion for the 2020 Summer Games. The sites of the 2018 and 2020 Games have not been decided.
NBC, with the support of its parent company Comcast, promised to offer every Olympic event live on some platform while continuing its tradition of a prime-time, largely tape-delayed telecast heavy on human interest stories.
The three networks made two-hour presentations on their Olympic plans Monday and Tuesday, with NBC presenting just before the three dropped their sealed bids into a ballot box late Tuesday. Fox bid for all four Olympics but fell about $1 billion below NBC’s offer; ESPN bid for just the first two Games, offering $1.4 billion, according to a source with access to the bids. IOC executive board member Richard Carrion led the negotiations.
“The numbers did enter into it, but we were blown away by the presentation, the passion this team has for the Olympic Games,” Carrion said via a live conference call from Lausanne, Switzerland, where the selection took place. ”It was very impressive.”
By 2020, NBC will have presented 17 Olympic Games dating back to 1964.
NBC paid $3.55 billion for the three Summer Games and two Winter Games from 2000 to 2008 and $2.2 billion — including a $200 million sponsorship from its then-parent company General Electric — for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and the 2012 Summer Games in London.
NBC, which has projected losses of nearly $500 million on the 2010-12 Games, wildly overbid for those two Games during the last auction in 2003; Fox had presented the next highest offer of just $1.3 billion.
Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts said that despite sending to Lausanne a team, including commentator Bob Costas, that had covered a combined 120 Olympic Games, the network was determined to show financial discipline. Network officials estimated better returns on the final two Games of the package than on the first two.
“We said all along we were going to take a disciplined approach where we’d have a path to profitability,” Roberts said. “By having a longer term, we were able to go out and achieve that goal.”
Former NBC Sports Group chairman Dick Ebersol seemed likely to garner some special consideration this time since he arranged for a higher-than-necessary offer, but he abruptly resigned last month, leaving questions surrounding NBC’s bid.
Ebersol had formed close ties and friendships with IOC members and earned a reputation of running a smooth operation and directing an excellent partnership.