Olympics Surprise for Comcast, NBC: Company Now Expects to Break Even

Aug 1, 2012  •  Post A Comment

NBC and Comcast expected to lose money on the Olympics, but in an earnings call today NBCUniversal chief Steve Burke said it’s now looking like the company will break even on the venture, Deadline.com reports.

“We are way ahead of where we thought we would be,” Burke said. Not only will the company break even on the London Games, he added, but “given the trends, we stand to make money on future Olympics. … All of the numbers are significantly better than we projected in our deal [to purchase NBCU].”

Burke declared the London Games “a ratings success pretty much across the board,” adding: “For the first time we have a strategy that embraces broadcast, digital, and cable.”

The report adds: “The company’s efforts to showcase its news properties and NBC Sports Channel mean ‘it’s clearly something that’s going to benefit our company very broadly. … Long term we’re delighted to have the asset.’”

Comcast wasn’t so sure about it when it was considering the purchase of NBCU. Burke noted that the company saw that “every 2 years NBCU was losing a lot of money on the Olympics.” The 2008 Beijing Games did well, but Burke said the company saw that as an anomaly attributable to the gold medal heroics of swimmer Michael Phelps.

For the London Games, he said, “we budgeted closer to (the 2004 Summer Olympics in) Athens than to Beijing,” anticipating a $200 million loss.

“But instead of seeing the first five days’ ratings down 20% vs Beijing the numbers from London are running 9% ahead,” the story notes.

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