NBCUniversal Paid Billions to IOC for Olympics Broadcast Rights

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Jul. 27 2021, Published 12:29 p.m. ET

If you’re trying to guess how much NBCUniversal paid for the Olympics, get ready for some sticker shock. The shorter answer is, the media corporation paid $12 billion for the broadcast rights of each edition of the Olympic Games from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, to the 2032 Summer Games in Brisbane, Australia.

NBC and its sibling channels have been airing the Olympics in the U.S. for all of the games since 2000. NBCUniversal seems eager to continue paying the big bucks to continue that tradition.

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In June 2011, the International Olympic Committee announced that NBCUniversal had secured the U.S. broadcast rights for the Olympic Games in 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2020 in a deal valued at $4.38 billion. NBCUniversal beat out bids from ESPN and Fox, according to CNN.

NBCUniversal shelled out $4.38 billion in 2011.

NBC Olympics Tokyo logo
Source: Getty Images

“We are delighted to have reached an agreement with our longstanding partner NBCU,” then-IOC President Jacques Rogge said at the time. “We received three excellent bids and would like to thank each broadcaster for their presentations. In the end, we were most impressed with NBCU.”

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NBCUniversal paid another $7.7 billion less than three years later.

In May 2014, NBCUniversal paid $7.7 billion to extend its broadcast rights deal with the IOC for five more Olympic Games, according to CNN. The 2022 Winter Olympics will take place in Beijing, China, the 2024 Summer Games will take place in Paris, France, the 2026 Winter Games will take place in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, and the 2028 Summer Games will take place in Los Angeles before the games head to Brisbane in 2032.

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“The Olympics are part of the fabric of our company, and we couldn’t be more excited that today’s announcement guarantees that this massively popular and profitable programming will continue to air every two years on the broadcast, cable, digital and mobile platforms of NBCUniversal for the next two decades,” Steve Burke, then the CEO of NBCUniversal, said at the time.

As CNN reported at the time, broadcast rights made up 47 percent of the IOC’s funds and represented the biggest source of revenue for the organization. “This agreement is excellent news for the Olympics as it helps to ensure its financial security in the long term,” IOC President Thomas Bach added.

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NBCUniversal is presenting 7,000 hours of Tokyo Olympics programming.

A June 2020 press release hailed NBUniversal’s Tokyo Olympics coverage was “the biggest media event ever,” touting that the company would present “an unprecedented 7,000 hours of coverage of the Tokyo Olympics this summer by utilizing two broadcast networks, six cable networks, and multiple digital platforms, serving both English- and Spanish-language viewers.”

However, not all Olympic Games prove lucrative for the company. For example, NBCUniversal lost $223 million on the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, according to the Associated Press. Already, the rescheduled 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, are off to a troubling start. The U.S. ratings for this year’s Opening Ceremony fell to a 33-year low, Reuters reported.

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