The International Olympic Committee has awarded the media rights to the 2014-2020 Olympic Games to NBC.
Speaking Tuesday afternoon from Lausanne, Switzerland, IOC president Jacques Rogge announced that NBC has put up $4.38 billion for the package, making this the most expensive TV rights deal in Olympic broadcast history.
Here’s the dollar breakdown: NBC will fork over $775 million for the 2014 winter games in Sochi, Russia, and another $1.23 billion for the 2016 summer games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
In addition to the two upcoming events, NBC will pay $963 million for the 2018 winter games and $1.45 billion for the 2020 summer games. Both venues are to be determined, although the host cities for the 2018 Games have been narrowed down to Munich, Germany; Anncey, France; and Pyeongchang, South Korea.
While many observers predicted that Comcast-NBCUniversal would come up short in Lausanne, the Peacock on Tuesday outflanked rivals ESPN and Fox for the blockbuster four-event package.
The bid was secured by new NBC Sports/Olympics chairman Mark Lazarus, who was supported by as many as 16 Comcast-NBCU higher-ups, including Comcast Corp. CEO Brian Roberts and GE president of Olympics Sponsorship, Peter Foss.
NBC Sports anchor Bob Costas also gave a stirring speech in support of his network’s bid.
Fox had also submitted a bid for the 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2020 games, but NBC either put up more cash for the rights to broadcast the events, or it presented a more compelling narrative. Rogge confirmed that ESPN had simply bid for the 2014 and 2016 games, effectively taking itself out of the running.
The news comes just three weeks after longtime NBC Olympics steward Dick Ebersol took leave of the network. While Ebersol was famously chummy with the Olympics’ governing body, IOC officials were apparently able to look past his glaring absence.
Since 1992, Ebersol had won the rights to 10 Olympic Games. He was also responsible for producing NBC’s coverage.
In the months since Comcast closed the deal to acquire a majority stake in NBCU, officials have said that the company would be a model of financial restraint. This alone led many to believe that NBC would lowball the bid. After all, NBC lost $223 million on its coverage of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and is expected to lose as much, if not more, on the 2012 London summer games.
Moments after the first tweets began to issue from Lausanne, many of the representative ESPN and Fox feeds suddenly went silent.
In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, ESPN thanked the IOC for what it called “a fair and transparent process.” ESPN went on to say that it had made “a disciplined bid that would have brought tremendous value to the Olympics and would have been profitable for our company, [but] to go any further would not have made good business sense for us.”
ESPN went on to congratulate Comcast/NBC for its winning bid.
Fox Sports chairman David Hill offered similar sentiments. “We would like to thank president Rogge, Richard Carrion [chairman of the IOC finance commission], and the IOC executive committee for giving us the opportunity to participate in the process,” Hill said.
Hill noted that Fox had offered an “economic package we believed to be good for the IOC and News Corp.”