A high-stakes wager on the Olympic Games by Comcast and NBC, which has added up to about $12 billion for rights to the Games through 2032, could give the company a leg up in the battle for the future of television, The New York Times reports.
“Comcast and NBC expect a record take from the Rio Games, which start Friday. They have already drawn more than $1.2 billion in ad sales, and receipts are continuing to come in,” The Times reports. “This despite the fact that overall traditional television viewing is ticking consistently down, due in large part to new competition from the internet.”
The report adds that big-ticket live sports broadcasts “have emerged as the last refuge for advertisers distraught by the slow death of the 30-second commercial, which is under siege from DVRs and online programming. The Olympics — like the Super Bowl or the World Cup — are best enjoyed live, when commercials still work the old-fashioned way; they sneak up on you during breaks.”
Audience erosion is expected to continue as alternative forms of entertainment proliferate, the report notes. “But Comcast and NBC are using that as an opportunity during the Olympics; they are planning to fill every stream — on cable and the internet — as never before,” The Times adds.
The report quotes Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, who noted that the last time the Summer Olympics effectively took place live in prime time was during the 1996 Games in Atlanta. “Twenty years ago, there was something like 170 hours of live content on one channel,” said Roberts. “Now we’ll have 6,800 hours on 11 channels, and up to 41 live streams. So that’s effectively 52 channels with 6,800 hours versus one channel with 170 hours.”
We encourage readers to click on the link to The Times near the top of this story to read the paper’s full analysis.