The 2014 Winter Olympics are under way in Sochi, Russia. Don’t worry about missing your favorite sport or athlete this time, though. NBC Universal, who purchased the exclusive broadcast rights to the Olympics for $775 million, is producing more Olympic coverage than ever before. In total, NBC plans to produce an estimated 1,539 hours over 18 days. That’s about 64 days worth of coverage. For comparison, during the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, ABC produced 43-½ hours of coverage over 12 days. NBC’s unprecedented feat is achieved through implementing a multi-platform, multimedia coverage system. Here at BMG, we’re so excited about the 2014 Winter Games that we’ll be covering it ourselves (in fact, you can view a live stream of the Opening Ceremonies below beginning at 7:30pm EST tonight). Over the next two weeks, we’ll be spotlighting the innovation, creativity, and technology that are being used during the Sochi Olympics. So let’s get to it.
The conventional methods of covering the Olympics are now over. With social media outlets growing exponentially every day, NBC had to make sure to integrate these platforms into their coverage. During the London Olympics in 2012, NBC had partnered with Facebook to deliver exclusive online content. This time around, NBC has partnered not only with Facebook, but also with Twitter to create a central hub for viewers to discuss the games.
NBC has also made a historic change in the way it covers the Olympics in hopes of catering to people living in the fast-paced, seamless digital era. For the first time ever in Winter Olympics history, NBC will stream live coverage of all competitions with a simple verification that you have a subscription to a cable, satellite, or telecommunications provider. Smartphone and tablet users will be able to watch all live coverage on their devices with apps like NBC Sports Live Extra. This is a big change for NBC, which only streamed 400 hours of minor competitions – like curling and ice hockey – during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
In addition to the $775 million NBC spent for the broadcast rights, they dropped around $100 million in production costs. But the revenue generated from ad sales alone during the Winter Olympics is speculated to be around $1.05 billion. The most notable difference from previous Olympic ad sales is the rise of digital ad buying. “[In Beijing] it was hard to get advertisers to buy into a digital website. You had to leverage TV assets in order to do it,” said Rick Cordella, senior vice president and general manager of digital media for NBC Sports Group. “As you move forward now, it’s a bigger piece of the media pie.” The revenue from digital ad sales is estimated to be around $50 million (about 5% of the estimated revenue), as TV commercials remain the biggest piece of the pie. However, this figure will only grow as the digital viewership grows.
So who benefits from this expanded coverage? Everyone. NBC wins because they succeeded in bringing innovation and creativity so that consumers can enjoy more content, not to mention racking in a ton of money from ad sales. The advertisers win because they have more platforms to showcase their products and services to the consumers. The consumers win because they are able to get more in-depth coverage, which may raise their interest in non-major sports. And the athletes win because they get more overall exposure with increased viewership and coverage, which could potentially lead to new sponsorship deals and endorsements.
We’re not sure we’ll be able to catch all 1,539 hours of coverage, but we encourage everyone to tune into the innovative coverage provided by NBC and leave feedback on what you were most impressed with as we continue our own unique coverage on 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.