The Summer Olympic flame is looking pretty dim these days and that has NBC executives worried they are going to lose a whole lot of gold.
The Tokyo Olympics are set to begin in about six months. But COVID-19 cases are surging in Japan (and around the world for that matter) and vaccine supplies are coming up short.
No one has officially cancelled, forfeited or postponed (again) the Olympic Games, but there are reports that Japanese officials may be looking for a way to politely bow out. That uncertainty is giving NBC executives a lot of performance anxiety. Last Spring, NBC Universal said that it had booked more than $1.25 billion in national advertising commitments for the Olympic games. The conglomerate is also looking to the Olympics to turbocharge its Peacock streaming service.
“We anticipate these kinds of things … so that we’re protected there, and we also have insurance for any expenses we make,” Comcast CEO Brian Roberts told a Morgan Stanley conference last year, saying there “should be no losses,” but adding that “there wouldn’t be a profit” either.
By not airing the games, NBC will save a truckload in production costs, but it’s not like the network has mid-summer replacement programing to offer. COVID-19 has slowed television productions down to a crawl. Cue the re-runs.
Meanwhile back in Japan, the Prime Minister has yet to decide if the small island nation should welcome in thousands of athletes from all corners of the globe, but the warm-up act is right around the corner. The torch relay is slated to start in northern Japan in late March, and a decision should come before that date.