NBC's New Olympic Deal: Six-Games Strategy Includes Hopes for a U.S. Host City

With its early $7.65 billion media rights pact, NBCUniversal stands to score even bigger ratings and profits if one of the unannounced Winter or Summer Games lands on American soil.
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Michael Phelps at the 2012 Summer Games in London

The latest media rights deal for the Olympics arrived far ahead of schedule on Wednesday morning, with NBCUniversal and the International Olympic Committee settling on a six-Games renewal -- completely blind as to the locations of the three Winter and three Summer Games.

Unlike the most recent Olympics pact, the $4.4 billion deal in 2011 for four Games, this was not an open bid. And because none of the host cities have yet been named, the $7.65 billion cost covers all of the games. Those involved with the deal said that there are no individual price tags assigned to 2022, 2024, 2026, 2028, 2030 or 2032.

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IOC president Thomas Bach joined Comcast chairman Brian Roberts, NBC Sports' Mark Lazarus and U.S. Olympic Committee chair Larry Probst during a Wednesday call with reporters to talk about the renewed partnership, which the parties first started discussing back in November and more or less agreed upon during the recent Sochi games.

"Compared to the previous deals, the deal represents an increase of about $1.4 billion -- at least for the IOC, this is not small," said Bach, who emphasized that the IOC had become comfortable with NBCU. "This deal is not all about money. You can make a dollar more and [risk] seeing your product destroyed."

NBCU's ability to broadcast the last two Games without taking the customary loss also played a big role in the decision.

"This is a unique sports property," said Roberts. "We've been fortunate to be profitable with London and Sochi, so we have a lot more experience. I think this long-term partnership allows you to invest and innovate knowing you're going to be together a long time."

The unnamed 2024 host city was a hot topic during the discussion. The next unannounced summer games, which the U.S. will no doubt be making a bid for, would be a huge boon to ratings and engagement across the NBCU portfolio if it took place in the U.S. Probst said that the "continuing" process next involves paring down the number of potential American host cities before choosing one to present to the IOC.

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"We certainly would be supportive of a Games in the United States," said Lazarus. "This deal was made without knowledge of where the Games are, as many have in the past. Our success with the Games has never been contingent on the location."

As for even longer-term TV plans, Bach was largely mum on the prospect of a designated Olympics channel -- something he championed during his election to the IOC.

"Unfortunately, I may say we are not there yet," he said. "What we have with the Olympic channel so far is a proposal I presented during my campaign last September. After the election, the executive board has decided to commission a visibility study. We do not yet have that."