By the Staff of NYSportsJournalism.com
December 26, 2016: This year, NBCUniversal was ready, willing and able to envelop you with all the numbers of its coverage of the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
They included an "unprecedented" record 6,755 hours of programming, an Olympic record $1.2 billion generated in national ad sales (up 20% from London, according to NBC), 120,000 tons of equipment on the ground, 2,000-plus employees, 450 cameras and an estimated 75,000 square feet of space inside the NBC Olympics compound.
But NBCU and NBC Sports Group, both divisions of Comcast, were also able to show and tell you that the key to the 2016 Olympics was covering the 28 sports events and telling the stories of many of the anticipated 10,500 athletes representing their nations as they compete for more than 300 medals.
"Storytelling is still at the core of everything we do," Jim Bell, executive producer, Olympics for NBC Sports, said during an Olympics media conference call. "I think in prime time especially because you're introducing the audience to athletes that most of the audience doesn't know and they're trying to watch sports that, outside of the Olympics, they never watch."
In the case of Rio, however, the story lines also included the Zika virus, water pollution, political and financial woes in the city and the nation of Brazil and the potential threat of violence, for which an Olympic record 80,000-plus police, soldiers and other security forces were in place.
NBC has had exclusive U.S. coverage of every Summer Olympic Games since Seoul in 1988 and every Winter Olympics Games since Salt Lake CIty in 2002. In 2011, NBCUniversal extended its TV rights deal for the Olympics through 2020 for $4.38 billion, and in 2014 again extended those rights through 2032 for $7.65 billion, according to industry analysts.
NBC gets significant dollars from official International Olympic Committee partners, which include Atos, Coca-Cola, Bridgestone, Dow, GE, McDonald's, Omega, Panasonic, Samsung and Procter & Gamble.
Also adding major dollars to marketing are such U.S. Olympic Committee partners as 24 Hour Fitness, AT&T, BMW, BP, Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser), Chobani, Citi, Dick's Sporting Goods, Hershey, Hilton, Kellogg's, Liberty Mutual, Ralph Lauren, Smucker's, Ameritrade and United Airline.
Numbers supported NBCU’s strategy to go big in digital, social media and mobile.
There were 100 million uniques and 222 million visits, up +29% and +44%, respectively, over the London 2012. NBC Olympics Digital video totaled 3.4 billion streaming minutes. A total of 2.71 billion live minutes of coverage streamed — more than 12.5 times the live minutes streamed for the 2015 Super Bowl, and more than 1.2 billion minutes more than the live stream totals for every previous Olympics combined.
There were more than 600 million video views of NBC Olympics Facebook video. And more than 1 billion minutes of Olympics content was watched on YouTube.
"As a company, across Comcast and NBCUniversal, Rio has been another proud achievement among a list of many," said NBC Sports group chairman Mark Lazarus said during a post-Games conference call. "This is the most ambitious task in the media business, and our team of thousands scattered among Rio (2,000-plus), Stamford (more than 1,000), Orlando and Hialeah all deserve a gold medal."
NBCU then ended the Year of Olympics by signing with the USOC and IOC to launch "Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA," set to launch in the second half of 2017.
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