In 2011, NBC won the right to broadcast all of the Olympic Games from 2014 through 2020 at a cost of $4.38 billion. This year’s Rio Olympics alone will cost the network $1.23 billion. Three years later, the network re-upped with the International Olympic Committee through 2032 for the eye-popping amount of $7.65 billion.
The IOC, of course, was thrilled with all this money.
“The agreement is a major contribution to the long-term financial stability of the entire Olympic Movement,” it said in a statement announcing the latest extension.
But reciprocity only goes so far. Sure, the IOC agreed to move the ratings-magnet swimming finals at this year’s Olympics to the nighttime in order to placate its sugar daddy, and now some of those finals won’t begin until after midnight Rio time (much, much to the chagrin of some). But when NBC went to Olympic officials and asked that it change the order of the Parade of Nations at the Aug. 5 Opening Ceremonies so that the U.S. athletes would come out at a more ratings-friendly time, it said no.
In the traditional Parade of Nations, teams enter the arena in alphabetical order. Switching the languages would have put the United States’s 555 athletes near the back, giving American audiences a reason watch the full broadcast. As it is, the team will enter somewhere in the middle, because in Portuguese, the delegation is known as Estados Unidos.
Communications director Mario Andrada told the Americans yesterday that International Olympic Committee rules require that the official language of the opening ceremony has to be that of the host country.
However, NBC Sports released a statement saying that it never requested that the language of the Parade of Nations be changed to English. “We did not ask the IOC, Rio 2016 or anyone else to use the English spelling,” said an NBC Sports spokesperson.
The U.S. athletes will come out 64th in the 207-nation parade, sandwiched between the Federated States of Micronesia and Estonia (who will be getting a ton of free advertising).
NBC, which took a bunch of heat for its heavily tape-delayed broadcast of the 2012 Olympics in London (five hours ahead of Eastern Time), has a much better time-slot situation this year because Rio is only one hour ahead of the East Coast so viewers will see many more events as they happen. Still, the network will be showing this year’s Opening Ceremonies on a one-hour delay so its broadcast can start at 8 p.m. EDT.
Spoiler alert: The U.S. marches early.