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Is NBC's Excruciating Olympic Countdown Necessary?
By: Jeff Louis
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Has anyone else become annoyed with NBC's Olympic countdown? Everyday, I am reminded how many days remain until the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

This isn't really that far of a stretch for a TV campaign -- until you consider that the advertisements and coverage began on Nov. 4, 2009, 100 days prior to the start of the games.

NBC's total coverage, including Universal Sports, The Weather Channel, MSNBC, and CNBC will broadcast over 1,250 hours of coverage before the Olympics, not including the segments that will be broadcast on the "Today" show.

The emphasis NBC's placed behind their promotional efforts is due to the network's $5.7 billion dollar investment to secure broadcast rights from 2000 to 2012. It's also the reason behind the protest launched by NBC when the United States Olympic Committee's (USOC) began efforts to form an "Olympic TV Network." The International Olympics Committee (IOC) stepped in, letting its United States counterpart know that they were to drop all efforts to form an Olympic-specific network immediately.  

According to the Los Angeles Times: "Never has a U.S. broadcaster committed to an effort of the scope that NBC has planned to promote both its own upcoming Olympic coverage and the Olympics in general. The IOC's backing of NBC isn't surprising; the games have received bad press for the past decade due to the financial burdens placed on host cities."

"Despite all of the attention the host city receives for holding an Olympiad, the limelight lasts for a two-week period while the payments can last for decades. For many prior hosts, the effect of a successful Olympiad is a bankrupt treasury that leads to higher taxes. The reason? Big bangs cost big bucks; efforts to host an Olympiad are extravagant, calling for new athletic and living facilities, road repairs, transportation plans, etc."

However, according to Nielsen, the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games attracted the largest global TV audience ever --  4.7 billion viewers -- or 70 percent of the world’s population at the time.

There may be a method behind NBC's apparent promotional madness: The network expects to lose money on the upcoming Vancouver Olympics.

Dick Ebersol, head of NBC Sports, stated this would be the first time the network has lost money on the Olympics since winning the broadcast rights to the 1992 Barcelona games.

While annoying, the NBC Olympic countdown seems to be necessary, especially since NBC won't be cutting back its coverage of the games despite the expected financial hit. This may mean the network (now part of Comcast) will most likely head to the negotiation table later this year to bid for the rights to televise the 2014 and 2016 Olympiads.

To find out more about the upcoming Winter Olympics, visit NBC's dedicated Web site, www.nbcolympics.com.


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About the Author

Jeff Louis: Media Planner, Brand Project Manager, blogger, and aspiring writer. Please leave a comment or get in touch with Jeff on Twitter. As always, thank you for reading!

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