Over the last two days, U.S. television broadcasters met with the International Olympic Committee in Switzerland to bid for exclusive rights to broadcast the 2014 and 2016 Olympic Games. NBCUniversal (NYSE:GE) has won the rights to 8 of the past 10 Olympics, and has broadcast every Summer Games since 1988 and every Winter Games since 2002, but that wasn’t discouraging any competition. In the era of Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), iTunes (NASDAQ:AAPL), and hundreds of different stations to choose from, viewership is spread out across many different sources and channels, but the Olympics maintain a draw for which there is no substitute, bringing in millions of viewers for whatever station is lucky enough to get broadcast rights.
Media companies pitched ideas for the broadcast to the IOC, whose decision was to be based both on marketing strategies and coverage as well as price. NBCUniversal, for example, emphasized their devotion to storytelling, which they say helps bring in female viewers. Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ:CMCSA) became a majority owner of NBCUniversal earlier this year, and NBC used that to their advantage, presenting Comcast’s slew of cable channels and video-on-demand as means of increasing coverage of the games.
ESPN (NYSE:DIS) and Fox (NASDAQ:NWSA) also made bids for the games but ultimately NBC was victor yet again. But instead of gaining rights to the 2014 and 2016 games for the $2 billion the IOC was asking, they ultimately bought rights to the next four games (after the London Summer Games in 2012, which they already have rights to) for upwards of $4 billion. They will have exclusive broadcasting rights in the U.S. to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, the the 2018 and 2020 games, for which locations have yet to be chosen.