Olympics 2012: Brazilian TV Record Wins the Rights to Broadcast the Games; But Ratings Flop

Brazilian TV Record Logo - H 2012

Brazilian TV Record Logo - H 2012

The network, which is airing the Olympics for the first time, increased its ratings over rival TV Globo, but still comes in third place.

For the first time Brazilian TV Globo – the biggest TV channel in Brazil -- isn’t exclusively airing the Olympics. This year, TV Record won the rights to air the London Games.

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Since 2004, Sao Paulo-based TV Record has been trying to break the monopoly of TV Globo. Although the network is the official channel broadcasting the Games in Brazil, the coverage hasn't increased the ratings as drastically as expected. Overall, Record still trails TV Globo despite a spike in ratings for some Olympic coverage, such as the soccer match on August 1 between Brazil and New Zealand.

According to IBOPE (the company responsible for tracking ratings in Brazil) this week, TV Globo scored an average of 13.2 points, TV SBT came in second with 6, while TV Record came in third place with only 5.1 points.

This is despite the fact that the other public networks are limited to show only six minutes of Olympics coverage, authorized by Record, and the footage can only be broadcast during three television news programs throughout the day. Competing networks must also wait three hours after the end of an event to display images of the games.

According to the Brazillian magazine Veja, Record paid R$60 million (approximately $30 million) for the exclusive rights.

TV Globo's Communication department told The Hollywood Reporter on Monday that the decision for exclusive rights for the London Games was decided before the Olympics in Beijing in 2008. “The TV Record doubled our proposal at that time, so it was impracticable for us to beat their bid. We wouldn't be able to make any money with publicity if we had paid more to get the exclusive rights for the Olympics.”

As a result, TV Globo opted to pass on airing images from Record -- including the Network's logo at the bottom of the screen — deciding instead to buy images from the Olympic Broadcasting Services.

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The disappointing ratings are especially problematic for Record because the broadcaster invested so heavily in its coverage of the Olympics. Besides live transmission of the games on TV, Brazilians can also watch through Record’s website, the portal R7, which transmits the events on five exclusive channels, 24 hours a day. The website also features highlights and replays of the best moments in the Games so far.

According to the newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo, the network also reached an agreement with the French institute Ipsos Marplan, which specializes in studies and research on media consumption habits to measure audience impact and preferences of viewers during the Olympics.

Still, TV Globo issued a statement explaining the limits on its Olympics coverage since many viewers don't understand why the Rio de Janeiro-based network isn't broadcasting the Olympics this year.

"The Globo coverage of the Olympic Games in 2012 will follow two principles that we cannot give up: to inform their viewers and respect agreements on sports rights," said the beginning of the statement. "As worldwide with no holders of rights, respect for these rules will mean, of course, a more limited coverage than that what we held in recent years, but enough to disclose the main news about the Olympics."

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Globo's Communication department also told THR that the rules for the Olympics in 2016, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro, will be different. The  Brazilian Olympic Committee (COI) already agreed that all the public networks in Brazil will be able to cover the Olympics without restrictions.