After an unprecedented one-year postponement, the Opening Ceremonies of the Summer Olympics are scheduled for July 23 and Closing Ceremonies are on August 8. Tokyo, which became the first Asian city to host the Summer Games in 1964, will play host for a second time. (Tokyo had been scheduled to host the 1940 games but was cancelled by World War II). Japan has also been the location for two Winter Olympics; Sapporo in 1972 and Nagano in 1998. There is a 13-hour time difference from Tokyo to New York and a 16-hour time difference from Los Angeles.
This is the second of three consecutive Olympics originating from Asia, the location for the 2018 Winter Games was PyeongChang, South Korea and the host city of the 2022 Winter Games is Beijing. Beijing, which was the location of the 2008 Summer Games, will be the first city to host both a Winter Olympics and Summer Olympics.
Events: There will be over 200 nations and 11,000+ athletes expected to participate for Games of the XXXII Olympiad. As usual there will be popular events such as; track and field, swimming, gymnastics and diving along with some new sports and events. After a twelve-year hiatus, baseball and softball will be returning. In addition, four new sports will make their Olympic debuts; karate, sports climbing, skateboarding and surfing. New events include 3×3 basketball, freestyle BMX and Madison cycling. The Tokyo Olympics will have 33 sports and 339 medal events compared to 28 sports and 306 medal events for the 2016 Rio de Janiero Games. The cost to host The Olympics is an estimated $15.4 billion, up 22% from last year’s estimated $12.6 billion, making it the costliest Summer Games to date.
NBCUniversal: This will be the 16th time NBC will televise the (Summer or Winter) Olympics, more than any other U.S. broadcaster. NBC has televised every Summer Olympics since the 1988 Seoul Games. Comcast reported the 2016 Summer Olympics garnered $1.62 billion in revenue resulting in an estimated profit of $250 million.
In June 2011, Comcast had outbid Fox Sports and ESPN for the media rights to cover the four Olympics from 2014 through 2020. Comcast paid the International Olympic Committee (IOC) $4.38 billion ($1.1 billion for each Olympic). In June 2014, NBCU extended their agreement with the IOC to secure U.S, broadcast, online and mobile rights for the Summer and Winter Olympics from 2022 through 2032 at a cost of $7.75 billion ($1.275 billion for each Olympiad) an increase of 16% per Olympic games. The U.S. broadcast rights has been a primary revenue source for the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Coverage: NBCU plans an unprecedented 7,000 hours of coverage across two broadcast networks, six cable networks with a number of digital platforms. The flagship NBC broadcast network will have 250 hours of coverage and will provide many of the premiere events such as swimming and track and field. Broadcast network Telemundo and cable network Universo will anchor Spanish language coverage with collectively, 300+ hours of Olympic programming. In their last Olympics, NBCSN will have 440 hours of coverage including badminton, equestrian, beach volleyball, softball, soccer and team handball.
USA Network will have nearly 400 hours of events including basketball, swimming, soccer and beach volleyball. Once the markets close, CNBC will have diving, archery, rugby, rowing and skateboarding in primetime Golf Channel will have 111 hours of men’s and women’s Olympic golf. The Olympic Channel the “Home of Team USA”, will have 242 hours of wrestling and tennis coverage.
Peacock was launched prior to the delayed 2020 Olympics. In the streaming wars, NBCU had planned to use the Olympics as a promotional vehicle to boost Peacock subscribers. One year later, Peacock will provide live coverage of such popular events as track & field and gymnastics that will be ad supported and free to subscribers. USA men’s basketball will require a paid subscription. Peacock features will include daily live shows, replays, curated highlights and original content.
Tech Innovations: Each Olympics brings about technological innovations for viewers. For example, the 1964 Tokyo games was the first Olympics to be broadcast live via satellite and was partially available in color TV. Coincidentally, the 1964 Olympics was the first time NBC televised the Olympics (rights fees were $1.5 million). NBC plans further innovations in 2021.
For example, in a first, NBC’s broadcast network coverage of Olympics primetime shows will be available in certain markets in 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) format with High Dynamic Range (HDR) and immersive Dolby ATMOS audio. All live competition on the Golf Channel and Peacock will be available in 4K and HDR.
NBC and Twitch, are partnering to produce and deliver live content available on the new NBC Olympics Twitch channel. Programming will include customized content for Twitch users, including highlight studio shows, “game-ified” pre-Olympic activations, Olympic athlete interviews and Olympic-themed gaming competitions. In addition, NBC has launched “Side Cast” allowing Twitch users to comment on a companion primetime interactive broadcast and encourage viewers to simultaneously watch NBC’s live coverage.
With international travel restrictions in place, NBCU has implemented a Friends and Family production group for Team USA. The goal is to capture the moments between Olympic athletes (whether they win or lose) and the response of family members and their respective hometowns despite being thousands of miles away. NBCU will employ cameras throughout the games capturing their reactions in real-time. The program will also cover the homecoming of these athletes after their competition has ended. The Friends and Family interactions will be shown in every primetime show across every platform.
Also, with fewer spectators and crowd noise, NBC will place microphones as close to the events as possible. This will enable viewers to hear athletes and the competition.
Advertisers: Being a cultural event in a brand safe environment, the Olympics have had numerous blue-chip sponsors. Another attraction for advertisers is the audience, the Olympics has been one of a few premier sporting events that attracts more female viewers than male viewers. The Tokyo Games will be no different with the return of such successful and familiar female athletes as Simone Biles, Katie Ledecky and Allyson Felix competing. As a result, a number of female targeted brands, not typically associated with sports marketing, have been Olympic advertisers. In addition, with the audience of the Olympics skewing toward upscale viewers, there are a number of luxury brands that advertise.
In late June, NBCU announced they had sold over $1.2 billion in national advertising for the Tokyo Olympics. This is a figure higher than the 2016 Rio Games and on par with the ad sales figure NBCU announced in March 2020 prior to last year’s postponement. NBCU is expected to have over 120 different marketers for the Olympics, including many first-time Olympic advertisers. Moreover, NBC said they have additional commercial inventory that they can sell as the Games approach. It’s estimated that NBCU will have over 15,000 commercial units during the Olympics.
In all probability, NBC advertisers will include such familiar and global Olympic sponsors as Coca-Cola, Visa, Procter & Gamble, Samsung, General Electric, Dow, Panasonic, Omega, Toyota and Bridgestone. Among the sponsors for Team USA include; United Airlines, Nike, Ralph Lauren Polo, Hershey, Lilly, Smuckers and Mondelez. Collectively, these companies invest billions of dollars to be affiliated with the Olympic movement.
NBC will also accept a limited amount of legalized sports wagering ads however; they will not accept any ads that promote betting on any Olympic events. In addition, viewers can expect a number of promotions for Peacock and upcoming programs and movies across other NBCU platforms.
For next February’s Super Bowl NBC (which had switched years with CBS) announced they were asking for a record $6 million for a :30 ad. It was also reported the network will ask advertisers for an equal amount of ad time for the Beijing Winter Olympics. Super Bowl LVI is scheduled for February 13, 2022 with the Beijing Olympics beginning on February 4 and running through February 20.
Ratings: Over the course of the Olympics, NBC will dominate TV ratings. For example, during the 2018 PyeongChang Games, the primetime ratings for NBC’s coverage were, on average, 82% higher than CBS, ABC and Fox combined. Nonetheless, NBC’s primetime ratings for the Summer Olympics have been declining. For the 2016 Rio Olympics, the average household rating was 14.4 with an average audience of 25.4 million. This was an 18% decline from the 2012 London Games with a 17.5 household rating and average audience of 31.1 million viewers. The Rio Games were also below the 2008 Beijing Games with an average household rating of 16.2 and average audience of 27.7 million viewers.
According to Nielsen, for the 2016 Rio Games, 78% of all U.S. TV households tuned in to some portion of NBC’s Olympic coverage, accounting for 198 million TV only viewers. In addition, with viewers tuned to NBC throughout the 17-day Olympics, the ratings for The Today Show, NBC Nightly News and The Tonight Show and other NBC programs can all expect a surge.
With viewers being able to access the Olympics across a number of screens, NBCU, beginning in 2016, has been using a metric called Total Audience Delivery. TAD uses various audience measurement sources to add viewing from linear broadcast/cable television, cell phones, tablets and connected TV. In addition, as the median age of linear TV gets older, the inclusion of other screens will provide an influx of younger viewers. The aim is to present advertisers with one single viewer. With the addition of the TAD metric, the audience delivery of the Rio games grew by 7%.
For the Tokyo games, TAD measurement will include Nielsen for both in-home and out-of-home viewing linear TV platforms (NBC, USA Network, CNBC, NBCSN, Golf Channel and Olympic Channel, Telemundo and Universo). Adobe Analytics will measure streaming audiences from NBCOlympics.com, the NBC Sports app and Peacock. The aggregate total of Nielsen and Adobe audiences encompasses TAD and enables NBCU to measure how many viewers are watching the Olympics at any given moment regardless of the platform.
In addition, NBCU will use Tunity to measure unduplicated out-of-home viewing across linear platforms. NBCU will also track consumption across social media platforms such as Snap and Twitter. Because of timing, they will not be a part of the initial TAD reports, but will be included afterwards creating TAD+.
Future Games: After the 2022 Beijing Olympics, the 2024 Summer Olympics will originate from Paris for the third time. The 2026 Winter Olympics is set for Milan-Cortina, Italy. Los Angeles will host the Olympics for their third time in 2028. It will be the first time the U.S. will host the Olympics since the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. The site for the 2030 Winter Olympic will be announced in 2023 with four locations competing; Salt Lake City, Barcelona-Pyrenees, Vancouver and Sapporo. The 2032 Summer Games is scheduled for Brisbane, Australia. (Brisbane has been the only city to bid on the Games.) NBC will provide coverage through the 2032 Olympics.
NBC believes the delayed 2021 Olympics is coming at the right time. Jeff Shell, the CEO of NBCUniversal says, “I’m personally one of these people that thinks the Olympics is an important thing for the world. Every four years it feels like there’s something bad going on, there’s some vitriol. This year feels particularly unique; the whole world is coming off a global trauma. The Olympics is when everybody forgets that and comes together and celebrates what we saw on the screen, the success and the failure, and the triumph and the heartbreak.”