NBC Olympic coverage has been a superb broadcast dissecting the important events it believes viewers are most interested in, if not for those annoying ads. As the network filled primetime with the best of what 2012 London Olympics had to offer, executives understood quite well the tendency of most US cable TV viewers to be drawn to primetime viewing. Historically, this is where family and friends gather to both embrace American winners and cheer for hopefuls. This is where revenues are made but usually do not equal or exceed reported costs.
A hedged bet by NBCUniversal’s CEO Steve Burke has ensured that the Olympic Games will at least break-even and will likely turn a small profit. That is the where the annoying primetime network ads become a necessary evil, since this is not a non-profit effort. While viewers tolerated the inevitable ads, NBC hit a home-run with superb coverage and revenue generation with the help from TV Everywhere cable customers.
Delayed, but Detailed Coverage
NBC delayed its coverage of those important events to better present an in-depth picture to viewers about their favorite Olympians. As the rush for gold medals intensified NBC presented the important background analysis of athletes which further pulled in viewers from the preliminary’s to the finals. A complete and important story was crafted, just for primetime, which would have been difficult in live coverage. The result was a dissection of each US Olympic hopeful, crafted as well as a 60 Minutes story that impressed both viewers and sponsors.
Olympic Ads Annoying but Necessary
As many Tech News outlets reported, primetime coverage was filled with too many commercial breaks. Watching national ads, many by Chevrolet, BMW, and others, does get old while viewers are waiting to see events unfold. Fortunately, the ad space was not filled with pharmaceutical wonder drugs with those weird side-affects. Pragmatically though, abundant commercials do offer quality time for family and friends to discuss their favorite athlete’s successes and failures. Even on broadband live feeds provided by the cable industry’s TV Everywhere, ads were just as prevalent.
I am convinced NBC knew in advance what needed to be done in striving to break-even on the reported $1.3 billion it paid to broadcast the London Olympics, while it paid a whopping $4.38 billion for exclusive rights into the next decade. Sports represent big bucks for the cable industry and have become a differentiator from Netflix.
“during the first seven days of this year’s Olympics, U.S. bandwidth used for Netflix has declined 25% while bandwidth used to watch NBC’s Olympic ‘TV Everywhere’ coverage has peaked at 34% of total bandwidth across major U.S. networks nationwide” From Bloomberg – Businessweek: NIA Reports on NBC Breaking “TV Everywhere” Record for Olympics
Historic Broadcast Outcome
Superb and annoying at the same time, that is how I would describe NBC’s herculean effort to provide the stellar coverage while making a historic profit at the same time. The credit must go to Burke and his executive team which put together this massive undertaking, likely taking months or years to prepare, betting on primetime as still being the mega drawing card for the 2012 Olympics. NBCUniversal is owned and operated by Comcast Corporation, (NASDAQ: CMCSA).