NBCUniversal Aiming for 7,000 Hours of Tokyo Olympics Coverage

Japan may only have a small minority of its citizens vaccinated, with a majority opposed to the country hosting next month’s delayed 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, but that’s not stopping NBCUniversal from pulling out all the stops to broadcast and stream the games.

The media giant June 7 announced it would broadcast and stream upwards of 7,000 hours of coverage throughout the quadrennial spectacle taking place July 23 to Aug. 8 across myriad properties, including NBC, USA, CNBC, NBCSN and Peacock.

“We are going to deliver the most comprehensive — and accessible — coverage for any sports event in history,” Molly Solomon, executive producer and president of NBC Olympics Production, said in a statement. “The depth and breadth of our broadcasts will be unprecedented, showcasing once-in-a-generation athletes and storylines that will capture the incredible uniqueness of these games and our times.”

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NBCUniversal and corporate parent Comcast have spent billions of dollars securing U.S. distribution rights to the Olympics through 2032.

Despite press claiming most Japanese were opposed to holding the games due to the pandemic, a new poll from Yomiuri Shimbun claimed that 50% of respondents want the games to be held this summer, with another 48% saying the event should be canceled. The paper’s previous poll had found 59% of respondents opposed to the games taking place. The telephone poll, conducted over three days from June 4 to 6, found 26% of the 1,070 respondents want the Olympics to be held without spectators, while 24% favored venues with limited seating.

Peacock Bows Olympics Channel

In anticipation of the Tokyo Olympics beginning on July 23, 2021, the Peacock streaming service has created the 24-hour channel Road to Tokyo, dedicated to Olympic and Paralympic classic moments, documentaries and studio programming.

NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service, launched July 15, offers an ad-supported free tier and an ad-supported premium tier for $4.99/month, serving no more than five minutes of advertising per hour. An ad-free version of the premium tier is also available for $9.99/month.

Road to Tokyo will feature a collection of on demand content that includes 10 documentaries produced by NBC Olympics, highlighted by Peacock originals In Deep With Ryan Lochte and Kamome. Additionally, “Olympic Classics” revisits the most inspirational events of recent games, including Simone Biles’ gold-medal winning performance at the Rio 2016 Olympics, gold medal victories from Team USA in men’s basketball by the “Dream Team” at Barcelona in 1992, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant at Beijing 2008, and Carli Lloyd’s two-goal performance to propel women’s soccer to a gold medal at London 2012.

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The channel will also feature three exclusive new specials to prepare fans for the upcoming games. Dreams Live On: Countdown to Tokyo examines the journey of star athletes, such as Simone Biles and Allyson Felix, preparing for next year’s Tokyo Olympics. Lighting the Olympic Flame: Iconic Ceremony Moments looks back at past opening ceremonies with interviews with participants such as Michael Phelps and composer John Williams. The Olympics & Paralympics: Inspirational Moments presents moments of courage and sportsmanship from recent past Olympics.

Tokyo Summer Olympics Rescheduled for July 23 – Aug. 8, 2021

The Tokyo Olympics Organizing Committee March 30 announced new dates for the Summer Games postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe.

The opening ceremony will now take place on July 23, 2021, concluding two weeks later on Aug. 8. The Paralympics will now take place Aug. 24-Sept. 5, 2021.

“These new dates give the health authorities and all involved in the organization of the Games the maximum time to deal with the constantly changing landscape and the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the International Olympic Committee said in a statement.

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“The new dates … also have the added benefit that any disruption that the postponement will cause to the international sports calendar can be kept to a minimum, in the interests of the athletes and the [International Federations].”

Rescheduling of the Games will reportedly cost upwards of $1 billion to accommodate moving dates, venues and operations.

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“Since it [the 2020 Olympics] were scheduled for this summer, all the venues had given up hosting any other events during this time, so how do we approach that?” Tokyo Games CEO Toshiro Muto told the AP. “In addition, there will need to be guarantees when we book the new dates, and there is a possibility this will incur rent payments. So there will be costs incurred and we will need to consider them one by one. I think that will be the tougher process.”

Indeed, media reports suggests the rescheduled Games could add an additional $4 billion in costs — the majority paid by Japanese taxpayers.

NBCUniversal Bows $150 Million Employee Fund as CEO Jeff Shell Says He Has the Coronavirus

NBCUniversal has created a $150 million fund for employees, production personnel and amusement staff impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement by CEO Jeff Shell included his admission to being diagnosed with COVID-19.

“I recently have been feeling under the weather and just learned that I have tested positive for COVID-19,” Shell wrote in a staff memo. “Although the virus has been tough to cope with, I have managed to work remotely in L.A. and am improving every day.”

Shell, who assumed the senior executive position following the retirement of Steve Burke, paid tribute to Larry Edgeworth, an audio technician at NBC News, who passed away due to complications from the virus.

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“Our hearts go out to his family, friends and co-workers,” Shell wrote.

The news comes as NBCUniversal’s marquee primetime event, the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, have been postponed to 2021, resulting in a $1.2 billion ad-revenue hit. The company’s Peacock subscription service remains on schedule to launch in April.

With the delays and postponements, 2021 is shaping up to be a busy year for NBCUniversal, which is opening a new theme park in Beijing, followed by the Tokyo Olympics and 2022 Winter Olympics, the Super Bowl and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

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“We will have the return of our tentpole films like F9 and Minions: The Rise Of Gru, and an avalanche of new TV shows,” Shell wrote. “The present may be challenging, but it is impossible not to feel optimistic about the future.”

Study: $2 Billion Asian Sports Media Revenue Loss in 2020

Following postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics to 2021, new data from Media Partners Asia suggests sports-related media revenue in the region (China, India, Australia and Japan) this year could fall 35% ($2 billion) due to ongoing disruptions caused by the global coronavirus pandemic.

Prior to the pandemic, MPA projected $5.7 billion sports-related media revenue generation in 11 key markets in the region for 2020, coupled with $6 billion rights investment by broadcasters and over-the-top video platforms covering the Olympics, professional basketball, soccer, motorsport, tennis, golf and rugby, among others.

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The data update assumes truncated IPL, AFL, NRL, Nippon Professional Baseball seasons, among others. The ICC T20 Cricket World Cup is expected to be held to completion in Australia in the fourth quarter.

MPA contends upwards of 40% of the fiscal loss will be recovered in summer 2021 when the Tokyo Olympics and the Euro 2020 soccer competition are expected to be held. In some instances, the growth of SVOD sports-based platforms (DAZN, fuboTV, etc.) with an ability to subscribe month-to-month, could prove key for a rebound in the Asian sports ecosystem.

That’s quite a change from earlier this month when MPA said the market for premium sports remains relatively healthy in Asia Pacific, in spite of uneven structural dynamics and the corrosive impact of piracy.

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“Sports rights investments in China, India, Australia and Japan are driven by a strong domestic sports ecosystem, supported by premium international rights for football, basketball and baseball,” analyst Srivathsan A R wrote on March 5.

Japan, IOC Officially Postpone Tokyo Summer Olympics to 2021

As expected, the International Olympic Committee and Japan March 25 formally announced postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics until 2021. The Games were originally slated from July 24 to Aug. 9.

“We have agreed that the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will be held by the summer of 2021 at the latest,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a brief statement.

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The delay comes after mounting pressure from countries and athletes regarding ongoing concerns about the safety of traveling and competing during the coronavirus pandemic that has infected nearly 390,000 people and killed 17,000.

Australia and Canada had already announced they would not send delegations, a move the United States Olympic Committee was set to follow.

Comcast, which is the exclusive TV and streaming video distributor of the Games in the United States, has about $1.2 billion in advertising commitments for the two-week event. CEO Brian Roberts has said the company has insurance against cancellation of the Games.

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IOC Official: 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics Likely Postponed

The 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, arguably the biggest media sporting event of the year, will be postponed likely to next year, according to an IOC official.

IOC member Dick Pound told USA Today March 23 the Games, which are slated for July 24 to Aug. 9, probably won’t happen until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe.

Japan has more than 1,800 COVID-19 cases, including cases originating aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

The modern Summer Olympics have been held consecutively every four year since 1896 — except during World War I and World War II (1916, 1940, 1944).

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Although the IOC has made no official announcement, there have been growing calls from countries’ Olympic committees to postpone the event due to athletes’ concerns. Canada and Australia both announced they would not be sending athletes due to the pandemic that has claimed more than 15,000 lives and infected more than 350,000, according to the World Health Organization. Johns Hopkins University said more than 100,000 of the infected have survived.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who until last weekend stressed the Games would go on as scheduled, began to change his mind as the pandemic expands.

“This decision by IOC is in line with what I have said, about holding the games in their entirety,” Abe told lawmakers over the weekend. “In case this becomes difficult, in order to make the athletes our top priority, we may have no choice but to decide to postpone the Games.”

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The delay is a huge blow to Japan and the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee, which have poured tens of billions of dollars into staging the event, not including billions more spent on marketing and advertising.

Organizers haven’t commented on the status of the traditional Olympic torch relay, which is slated to start March 26 (without spectators) in the northern part of the country.

Comcast, which has spent billions securing exclusive U.S. broadcast and streaming rights for NBCUniversal to the Games, stands to lose about $1.2 billion in advertising. CEO Brian Roberts has said the company has insurance should the Games be canceled.

NBC Sports plans to stream the games across several of its networks.

Comcast CEO: Coronavirus Could Accelerate Home Entertainment Viewing; Says Company Has Insurance Should Tokyo Olympics Not Happen

With increased concerns about public venues in light of the growing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Comcast Corp. CEO Brian Roberts March 3 told an investor group the situation could actually be a plus for NBCUniversal and its pending Peacock streaming video platform — which launches April 15.

“With 70% of our company being cable and broadband, and that consumption taking place in the home, we’re in a very good set of businesses that actually can see more improvement in our digital service and using your device to transact with our company. It could actually accelerate trends that we’re already having,” Roberts told the Morgan Stanley Investor Conference in San Francisco. “So our base businesses probably are at the moment kind of unaffected. If anything, people appreciate the value of our product even more.”

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Brian Roberts

Indeed, Comcast, in addition to its legacy cable pay-TV business, also operates the Xfinity Store, one of the largest digital movie/TV show retail platforms in home entertainment.

At the same time, Comcast, like Disney, is in the amusement park business. The coronavirus has already shuttered Universal Studios Japan for two weeks and halted — until now — construction and 13,000 workers at a Universal theme park being built in Beijing, China.

“Our China team believes we will open the park on time despite the disruption that occurred,” Roberts said.

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He said the park situation could pose a drag (7% to 9%) on quarterly earnings, including 2% of pre-tax earnings. How that could impact the Tokyo Summer Olympics remains to be seen. NBC has the exclusive U.S. broadcast and streaming rights to the Games through 2032.

Roberts said Tokyo organizers have told him the quadrennial event is “full steam ahead”. That reassurance comes as Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently ordered all schools in the country closed until April due to the virus. There are more than 200 reported COVID-19 cases in Japan.

To date, there are 91,300 people who have contracted the disease, and at least 3,110 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

“There should be no [fiscal] losses should there not be an Olympics,” Roberts said. “There just wouldn’t be a profit this year.”