Sunday, January 5th, 2014


Sochi Will Be NBC’s 14th Olympics, the Most by Any Network 

“America’s Olympic Network” Carries Unprecedented Eighth Consecutive Games

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics represent the 14th Olympic broadcast by NBCUniversal, the most ever by any media company.

The Sochi Winter Olympics mark an unprecedented eighth consecutive Olympic broadcasts by NBCUniversal. The impressive streak began with the 2000 Sydney Games and continues through the 2014 Sochi Games. Including Sochi, NBCUniversal will have broadcast nine of the last 10 and 11 of the last 13 Olympic Games, both Summer and Winter. It is NBCUniversal’s fourth consecutive Winter Games, dating back to 2002 in Salt Lake City.

The tradition of Olympic storytelling continues as the hallmark of NBCUniversal’s coverage, led by Bob Costas, a 25-time Emmy Award winner and one of the most respected and honored broadcasters.

Emmy Award-winner Al Michaels, one of the most renowned broadcasters of all-time, will serve as host of NBC’s live weekend and weekday daytime coverage of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, his third consecutive Olympics for NBC Sports Group. His legendary “Do you believe in miracles? YES!” call at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics stands as one of the most famous call in sports television history.”

NBCUniversal’s Olympic vault of indelible Olympic images including spectacular Opening Ceremonies in London and Beijing; Michael Phelps’ magnificent 18 gold-medal performances; the feats of track & field legends Usain Bolt, Carl Lewis, Michael Johnson and Jackie-Joyner Kersee; diver Greg Louganis; the original basketball “Dream Team;” gymnast Kerri Strug and the “Magnificent Seven”; gymnast Gabby Douglas and the “Fierce Five”; the unlikely Greco-Roman wrestling hero Rulon Gardner; Winter Olympics gold medalists Sarah Hughes, Shaun White and Apolo Anton Ohno; and, of course, the inspirational moment when Muhammad Ali lit the Olympic cauldron in Atlanta.

Following is a breakdown of the agreements for NBC’s acquisition of the seven consecutive Summer and Winter Olympic Games:

  • In August 1995, NBC paid $1.2 billion to acquire the exclusive U.S. broadcasting rights to both the 2000 Games in Sydney ($705 million) and the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City ($545 million).
  • In December 1995, NBC and the IOC constructed a then record-breaking $2.3 billion agreement granting NBC the exclusive U.S. media rights to the 2004 Summer Olympics ($793 million), the 2006 Winter Games ($613 million) and the 2008 Summer Olympics ($894 million). It marked the first time that the same network had been awarded the rights to five consecutive Olympics.
  • In June 2003, NBC paid $2 billion for the exclusive U.S. media rights to the 2010 Winter Games ($820 million) and the 2012 Summer Olympics ($1.181 billion).
  • In June 2011, the IOC announced that it awarded the U.S. media rights to the 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020 Olympic Games to NBCUniversal for $4.38 billion.

NBCU’s Olympic Tradition

Following are capsules of NBCU’s 13 previous Olympic broadcasts, from the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games to the 2012 London Olympic Games:

2012 Olympic Games – London

NBCUniversal presented more than 5,535 hours of London Olympic coverage – an unprecedented level that surpassed the coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics by nearly 2,000 hours.

More than 217 million Americans watched the London Olympics on the networks of NBCUniversal, setting the record as the most-watched event in U.S. television history, surpassing the 2008 Beijing Olympics (215 million), according to data provided by The Nielsen Company.

The London Olympics averaged 31.1 million viewers in primetime, and a household rating of 17.5, making it the most-watched and highest-rated (tying Seoul 1988) non-U.S. Summer Olympics since the Montreal Olympics in 1976. Compared to the most recent Summer Olympics, the London Olympic viewership topped the Beijing Olympics by 3.4 million viewers (12%) and the Athens Olympics by 6.5 million viewers (26%).

During the Olympic broadcasts, the NBCUniversal cable networks (BRAVO, CNBC, MSNBC, and NBCSN) reached more than 82.4 million viewers, 160% more than the 31.7 million the networks reached during comparable time periods the year prior.

During the London Olympics, NBCSN set multiple viewership records. Highlights included:

  • The Team USA Women’s gold medal soccer match ranking as NBCSN’s most-watched event in history with 4.35 million viewers.
  • Coverage of Team USA Men’s Basketball on NBCSN averaged more than 2.6 million viewers, including a high of 3.33 million viewers for Team USA-Argentina group stage game (8/6).
  • NBCSN delivered its six most-watched days ever during the Olympics, including its best day ever on Thurs. Aug. 9 (U.S. Women’s Soccer Gold Medal).
  • Eleven of the top 12 days in NBCSN’s history came during the Olympics.
  • The London Olympics are the most-watched event ever on NBCSN with 48.9 million total viewers (through Thursday, August 9).

For the first time ever, NBC live streamed every competition as well as Closing Ceremony. In all, the site streamed more than 3,500 total programming hours, including the awarding of all 302 medals. In addition, NBC Olympics provided two new apps for the 2012 London Olympics. During the 17 days of the London Olympics,, the mobile site and the Apps delivered unprecedented traffic, consumption and engagement. There was a total of 159.3 video streams and 20.4 million hours of total video streamed – more than double the entire Beijing Olympics.

NBC won five Sports Emmy Awards for its coverage as well as resounding praise.

“By any measure, the London Olympics were pure gold for NBCUniversal.”- Variety

“As the dust of the track settles, and the stats and data shake out, NBC’s coverage of the world’s biggest sporting event, on network TV, cable, and the Web, looks good enough to earn a medal.”   Philadelphia Inquirer

“Chores piling up. DVRs stuffed and groaning with unwatched favorites. Late, bleary strolls into the office. Welcome to the Great Olympic Time Suck, that unsung sport that has millions glued to coverage of the London Games rather than tending to real life.”- Associated Press

“NBC has a major success story to tell with their historic television ratings.”- Sports Illustrated

Jim Bell served as executive producer with Bucky Gunts as head of production. Bob Costas hosted NBC’s primetime coverage while Al Michaels and Dan Patrick hosted daytime and Mary Carillo handled late night. Michelle Beadle, Liam McHugh and Willie Geist split NBCSN hosting duties. MSNBC was hosted by Kelly Tilghman and Rob Simmelkjaer. Fred Roggin hosted boxing on CNBC and Pat O’Brien hosted on Bravo. 

2010 Olympic Games – Vancouver

NBC Universal presented more than 835 hours of Vancouver Olympic Winter Games coverage – representing the most total hours ever for a Winter Olympics, more than the last two Winter Olympics combined, and the most live hours ever for a Winter Games. The Vancouver Games is the first Winter Olympics to be presented entirely in high definition.

190 million Americans watched the Vancouver Olympics on the networks of NBC Universal, making them the second-most watched Winter Olympics ever, surpassing Salt Lake City (187 million) and ranked behind only the *tabloid-fueled Lillehammer Games, according to data available today from The Nielsen Company.

Through the 17 nights of the Vancouver Olympics, NBC drew more viewers than the other three major networks combined (9 percent advantage).  The Vancouver Olympics averaged 24.4 million viewers in primetime, more than doubling Fox, tripling CBS and quadrupling ABC over that span.

On Wednesday, Feb 17, the Olympics on NBC broke American Idol’s six-year unbeaten streak. Head-to-head against Idol (8-9 p.m.), the Olympics out-drew Idol 19.2 million vs. 17.8 million.

The USA vs. Canada gold medal hockey game, that NBC’s Bob Costas called, “One of the greatest sports events I have ever seen,” was the most-watched hockey game in 30 years.  Canada’s epic 3-2 overtime victory drew an average viewership of 27.6 million, the most watched hockey broadcast of any kind since the gold medal-clinching USA vs. Finland 1980 game in Lake Placid on Feb. 24, 1980 (32.8 million).

“Once again, NBC has put together an all-star team of broadcasters. Talk about fire power in one studio chair. NBC has outdone itself.” – San Francisco Examiner

“If there’s a reason to upgrade your TV set, that reason begins Friday night.”

“For the first time, all televised coverage of the Games –that’s 835 hours – will be aired in glorious high definition.” – The Salt Lake Tribune

“It’s the greatest show on snow. And the television version has been so satisfying –visually, emotionally, aesthetically – that, for the moment, the national pall imposed by the recession, and by the generally shabby state of public affairs, seems to have been lifted. Not only is the show grand and gorgeous and sometimes thrilling, but it’s also a huge hit.” – Washington Post

Dick Ebersol served as executive producer with David Neal as head of production. Bob Costas hosted NBC’s primetime coverage while Jim Lampley anchored daytime and Mary Carillo handled late night. Alex Flanagan and Matt Vasgersian split USA Network hosting duties. MSNBC hosting responsibilities were shared by Bill Patrick and Melissa Stark. Fred Roggin hosted boxing on CNBC and Lindsay Czarniak hosted on Oxygen. 

2008 Olympic Games – Beijing

“It turned out to be the greatest TV many Americans have ever witnessed,” is how ESPN described NBC’s coverage of the spectacular 2008 Beijing Olympics. From the dazzling Opening Ceremony to Michael Phelps’ Olympic-record eight gold medals to Usain Bolt’s world records, the Beijing Games captivated America and became the most-watched television event in history with 215 million viewers, eclipsing the 209 million of the 1996 Atlanta Games.

NBC Universal’s coverage of the Beijing Olympics was the most ambitious media project in history. Its 3,600+ hours of coverage surpassed the combined total of every previous Summer Olympics ever broadcast. Coverage across all NBC Universal platforms averaged nearly 212 hours per day for 17 days – more than eight days of coverage during every single day of the Olympics. The total hours tripled the previous record of 1,210 total hours of coverage on NBC from Athens in 2004, was 20 times more than the 171 total hours on NBC from Atlanta in 1996 and 180 times greater than the 20 total hours for the inaugural U.S. Olympic broadcast on CBS from Rome in 1960.

For the first-time ever in the U.S., NBC Universal’s Web site featured live streaming Olympic broadband video coverage. more than doubled the combined totals for the Athens and Torino Games in page views and unique users, while increasing video streams.

NBC won nine Emmy Awards, including three primetime Emmy Awards plus a Peabody Award, for its coverage as well as resounding praise.

“…the best overall Olympic experience ever provided by a U.S. network.” – USA Today

“NBC’s coverage was worthy of a gold medal. The network set the standard for all future Olympics broadcasts.” – Tampa Bay Tribune

“The Games are supposed to bring out the best in those who compete, and these Games, seemingly more than others of recent years and decades, brought out the best in television.” Washington Post

Dick Ebersol served as executive producer with David Neal as head of production. Bob Costas hosted NBC’s primetime coverage while Jim Lampley anchored daytime and Mary Carillo handled late night. Alex Flanagan and Matt Vasgersian split USA Network hosting duties. MSNBC hosting responsibilities were shared by Bill Patrick and Melissa Stark. Fred Roggin hosted boxing on CNBC and Lindsay Czarniak hosted on Oxygen.

2006 Olympic Winter Games – Torino

After NBC’s coverage of its first Winter Olympics during the 1972 Sapporo Games, the network did not broadcast another Winter Games until 2002 in Salt Lake, making the Torino Olympics NBC’s second consecutive Winter Games broadcast and third overall.

NBC’s passion for and commitment to the Olympics was on full display during the Torino Games with an unprecedented 416 hours of coverage, including more live coverage than any Winter Olympics broadcast in history. The record-setting coverage on the networks of NBC Universal – NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, USA Network – surpassed the 375.5 hours from Salt Lake in 2002. NBC’s HD affiliates and Universal HD also provided high definition Olympic coverage. was the Internet’s preeminent Olympic source.

NBC’s Torino coverage saw the return of distinguished skating analyst and two-time Olympic gold medalist Dick Button. Since winning his first Olympic gold medal in St. Moritz in 1948, Button’s involvement in the Olympics and the sport of figure skating has spanned seven decades. His last Olympic broadcast had been in 1988 for ABC.

“NBC’s coverage has been ‘dramatic,’ ‘wide-ranging,’ and ‘eye-opening.’” – Newsday

“Unquestionably, the gold medal in Internet Olympic coverage goes to NBC Web site.” – Chicago Tribune

“Watching NBC on high-definition is, in a word, gorgeous.” – NY Daily News

Dick Ebersol served as executive producer with David Neal as head of production. Bob Costas hosted NBC’s primetime coverage while Jim Lampley anchored both daytime and late night. Bill Macatee hosted USA Network’s coverage. Bill Clement hosted hockey on USA, MSNBC and CNBC. Mary Carillo hosted USA’s ‘Olympic Ice.’ Curling on CNBC and MSNBC was hosted by Fred Roggin.

2004 Olympic Games – Athens

NBC’s unprecedented broadcast of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games included 1,210 hours of coverage, 24 hours a day, and was watched by 203 million viewers on the networks of NBC Universal – NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, USA, Bravo, Telemundo and NBC HDTV. The 1,210 hours – more than the last five Summer Games combined – represented an average of more than 70 hours per day and allowed NBC for the first time in U.S. television history to provide some coverage of all 28 Summer Olympic sports. Telemundo’s Spanish broadcast represented the first-ever non-English language Olympic coverage in the U.S. NBC’s high definition affiliates provided the first HDTV coverage of the Summer Olympics in the U.S. NBC’s broadcast of the Athens Games won nine Emmy Awards, including three primetime Emmys for Opening Ceremony coverage.

A sampling of acclaim for NBC’s round-the-clock coverage from Athens:

“The upshot is you can watch someone you’ve never heard of playing some sport you’ve never cared about pretty much any time of the night and day. And nothing could make me happier.” – USA Today

“America is flipping for the Summer Olympic Games in Athens. Thanks to Bob Costas—oh, and the golden performances by Michael Phelps, Carly Patterson and Paul Hamm—NBC blew away the competition.” – Entertainment Weekly

“The Olympics’ seven channel package is a smashing success.” – San Francisco Chronicle

“Seriously, how do you come close to watching everything that’s worth watching and get any sleep?… I don’t know about you, but after a couple of decades of eroding interest, I’m falling back in love with the Olympics.” – Oakland Tribune

Dick Ebersol served as executive producer with David Neal as head of production. Bob Costas hosted NBC’s primetime while Jim Lampley anchored both daytime and USA Network coverage. Pat O’Brein hosted late night coverage during week one of the Games while Dan Hicks took over for the second week. Cable hosting duties were served by Lester Holt on MSNBC, Fred Roggin on CNBC, Mary Carillo on Bravo, Inga Hammond on Bravo’s evening coverage, and Jessi Losada and Andrés Cantor on Telemundo.

2002 Olympic Winter Games – Salt Lake City

NBC’s coverage of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games from Salt Lake City (Feb. 8-24) earned ratings gold, averaging a 19.2 household national nightly rating/31 share, up 18 percent over CBS’ 16.3/26 for its coverage of the 1998 Nagano Games. NBC’s Salt Lake Games, which won a record 17 Emmy Awards (including six primetime Emmys for Opening Ceremony coverage)  attracted 187 million unique viewers – an average of 61 million viewers each night during primetime, making Salt Lake the second most viewed Winter Games ever. NBC’s nightly ratings delivery over 17 days was equivalent to eight Super Bowl broadcasts. NBC and its cable networks CNBC and MSNBC broadcast an unprecedented 376 hours of coverage.

A sampling of the critical acclaim for NBC’s Salt Lake production:

 “NBC has put on the best U.S. Olympic TV ever… The sports themselves are firmly center stage.” USA Today

“The nightly show you got at home was beautifully presented and packaged. NBC could squeeze a tear of emotion out of Hannibal Lecter. Dick Ebersol, the NBC boss and Olympic genius, knows how to do this better than anyone.” – Los Angeles Times

“It has created the best Olympics since at least 1994. For Salt Lake City, NBC has sharpened its edge.” – The New York Times

Dick Ebersol served as executive producer with David Neal as head of production. Bob Costas hosted NBC’s primetime coverage while Hannah Storm anchored daytime and Dan Hicks late night. Jim Lampley performed double-duty as CNBC and MSNBC host while Pat O’Brien anchored coverage from the Medals Plaza.

2000 Olympic Games – Sydney

NBC’s Emmy-Award winning coverage of the 2000 Olympic Games marked numerous firsts and successes. The unprecedented 441.5 hours of taped coverage of the Games of the XXVII Olympiad from Sydney on NBC, MSNBC and CNBC attracted a total of 185 million unique viewers over 17 days from Sept. 15 – Oct. 1.  NBC’s coverage garnered 10 Emmy Awards, including one for Outstanding Live Event Turnaround and for Outstanding Technical Achievement for Virtual Swimming Graphics; and surpassed all advertising and revenue expectations, posting a profit north of $50 million. In addition, attracted nearly six million unique visitors during September, becoming the most trafficked Olympic Web site, according to the Nielsen Net ratings.

Dick Ebersol and Tom Roy were co-executive producers while David Neal served as head of production. Bob Costas anchored NBC’s primetime and late-night coverage with Hannah Storm anchoring NBC’s afternoon and weekend programming. Pat O’Brien and Jim Lampley hosted CNBC and MSNBC’s coverage, respectively.

1996 Olympic Games – Atlanta

NBC’s 171.5 hours of coverage of the 1996 Olympics from Atlanta attracted more viewers at the time than any other event in television history with 209 million viewers in 17 days. It surpassed the 204 million viewers for the tabloid-fueled 1994 Olympic Winter Games from Lillehammer. NBC Sports went on to win 10 Emmy Awards for its work from Atlanta, including one in a special technical innovation category for “dive-cam.”

Dick Ebersol and Tom Roy were co-executive producers while David Neal served as coordinating producer. NBC’s were anchored by primetime host Bob Costas. Other day parts were hosted by Greg Gumbel, Jim Lampley, Hannah Storm, Ahmad Rashad, Dick Enberg and Katie Couric. Tom Hammond’s calls of Michael Johnson’s double-gold medal performance in the 200- and 400-meter races were among the memorable highlights.

 1992 Olympic Games – Barcelona

NBC’s colorful presentation of the Summer Games in Barcelona were highlighted by the tremendous performances of the USA’s athletes, including the coronation of the men’s basketball “Dream Team,” the world record-setting 4x100m relay quartet anchored by Carl Lewis and the emotional swimming gold medalist Pablo Morales.

Broadcasting its second straight Summer Games, NBC produced 161 hours of Olympic coverage, with primetime exposure accounting for 74 hours. In addition, NBC presented 30 hours of weekday coverage, 21 hours in late night, and 36 hours of weekend morning and afternoon coverage.

Dick Enberg served as morning co-host with “Today’s” Katie Couric. Bob Costas anchored the primetime hours with Jim Lampley and Hannah Storm chronicling the late night activities.

NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol, who was hired in 1989, served as co-executive producer of the coverage. He had served as the first Olympic researcher for ABC in 1968 and subsequently worked closely with ABC’s Roone Arledge on that network’s Olympic coverage. NBC debuted “Dick Enberg’s Moments” and “Moby-cam,” an underwater tracking camera used on swimming coverage. NBC won five Emmy Awards for its efforts.

1988 Olympic Games – Seoul

On October 3, 1985, the International Olympic Committee announced that NBC was awarded the broadcast rights to the XXIV Olympiad for $300 million. The Summer Games were held in the fall (Sept. 17 – Oct. 4) in Seoul, Korea and marked the first (and last) time in 12 years that the U.S. and Soviet Union competed in the Summer Games.

Named to host NBC’s primetime coverage was Bryant Gumbel, while Bob Costas was selected to host late-night coverage. Other prominent announcing roles went to Dick Enberg (gymnastics and venue host), Gayle Gardner (studio host), Marv Albert (boxing), Bob Trumpy (volleyball), and Charlie Jones (track & field).

The coordinating producer of NBC’s 176.5 hours of Olympic coverage from Seoul was Terry Ewert. Bob Levy was the coordinating director. NBC’s Olympic coverage included 78.75 hours of prime-time exposure, 40 hours of weekday morning and afternoon coverage, 30.5 hours in late night, and 27.2 hours of weekend morning and afternoon exposure.

NBC’s Seoul Olympics coverage began with a two-hour preview show, continued for 17 consecutive days, and concluded with a three-hour review show on Oct. 4. The network received seven Emmy Awards for its coverage from Seoul.

1980 Olympic Games – Moscow

Little did Bryant Gumbel know when he announced in 1977 on “Grandstand” (a studio wrap-around sports show) that NBC had acquired the rights to broadcast the 1980 Moscow Olympics, that three years later he would reveal on the network’s NFL pre-game show, that the United States would boycott the Summer Games.

NBC had purchased the broadcast rights to the Moscow Games for $87 million, more than tripling ABC’s rights fee of $25 million for the 1976 Montreal Games. NBC was scheduled to telecast 150 hours of Olympic coverage from Moscow.

Then on January 20, 1980, while appearing on NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” President Jimmy Carter announced that unless the Soviet Union withdrew its troops from Afghanistan in one month, he would recommend that the United States not send athletes to the Moscow Olympics. One month later, no movement was made.

On April 12, 1980, the United States Olympic Committee voted, by a 2-1 margin, to follow President Carter’s recommendation and not field an Olympic team. The boycott dealt a major blow to NBC broadcast plans, but an insurance policy (the first time a sporting event had been insured) paid off. Ninety percent of NBC’s rights fee was insured and the bulk of the $34 million that was lost on the Summer Games was mostly due to “out-of-pocket” expenditures for, among other things, equipment, pre-production costs and personnel.

The network did send a small production crew to Moscow to supply taped coverage of the Summer Games for air on NBC’s “SportsWorld.”

Gumbel was slated to be the host of the 1980 coverage, with Dick Enberg, Donna de Varona, Joe

Garagiola and Bruce Jenner handling the other primary announcing duties.

1972 Olympic Games – Sapporo

Another rights-fee threshold was passed when NBC paid $6.4 million for the Olympic Winter Games in Sapporo. NBC carried 37 hours of coverage in what, until Salt Lake in 2002, was the only Winter Olympics ever broadcast by the network.

Curt Gowdy served as the anchor of the Olympic coverage. Also reporting were Jim Simpson, Jay Randolph and Al Michaels. Olympians Billy Kidd (alpine skiing), Terry McDermott (speed skating), Art Devlin (ski jumping), and Peggy Fleming (figure skating) served as analysts. Jack Perkins of NBC News also reported. The Sapporo Olympics were produced by Dick Auerbach and directed by Ted Nathanson.

1964 Olympic Games – Tokyo

NBC’s first venture into Olympic telecasting marked the first time that the rights fee to telecast the Summer Games surpassed the $1 million barrier. NBC obtained the rights to the XVIII Olympiad for $1.5 million, but scheduled just 14 hours of coverage.

New ground, however, was broken by NBC as the network presented the first-ever live telecast of the Opening Ceremony. Additionally, when NBC Olympic anchor Jim Simpson spoke to the U.S. audience from Tokyo, he became the first TV broadcaster to report live from Japan via satellite.

Joining Simpson on the broadcasts were Bud Palmer, Murray Rose, Bill Henry and 1960 Olympic-decathlon gold medalist Rafer Johnson. Henry had served as the stadium announcer for the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.