For now, Comcast is optimistic the Olympics will take place. However, Japan will be making a final decision at the end of May.
What if the games don’t happen, or perhaps becomes a much narrower event at another location, such as Europe?
Reports suggest the coronavirus -- which perhaps will not rapidly escalate in the summer -- will still be an issue, especially where millions of at-site Olympic fans/consumers in Japan will gather.
Can one imagine a major sports TV event without sports watchers in arenas, stadiums and venues in Japan? Imagine just athletes who have been carefully screened competing in a controlled environment. That could happen.
Right now, some business event promoters are canceling or shifting conference efforts -- at-site locations are being transformed to virtual, internet-only live events.
Think of this extending to sports as well -- in the near term. Some are thinking about European soccer games being played in upcoming days without any fans in the stands.
At a recent Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom conference in San Francisco, Brian Roberts, chairman-CEO of Comcast Corp., said the company’s NBCUniversal big sports competition -- July 24-Aug. 9 -- is currently on schedule. “What I know is it’s full-steam ahead... “I’m optimistic the Olympics are going to happen. I’m looking forward to being there,” he said.
Though Japan is not as affected as China, it still has a major number of coronavirus infections versus Europe and North America. That has meant Comcast’s Universal Studios theme park in Osaka, Japan, has had to close for at least two weeks.
Roberts is more optimistic. A Beijing, China, theme park has begun construction again, after building was halted for several weeks.
Back to the Olympics -- and perhaps the next level of concerning media business news. What happens to the $1.25 billion in TV ad deals already committed to NBCUniversal should the Olympics be delayed -- or canceled?
While some of that money could get shifted to other NBCU platforms, one can imagine marketers will also want cash back quickly, then use that money to help fuel summer consumer promotion campaigns. Will a May decision in Japan be enough time to make changes?
Jeff Wlodarczak, entertainment/interactive analyst, for Pivotal Research Group, says: “For now we are assuming the Olympics moves forward as planned -- either in Japan or possibly re-located to the U.K. In the event the Olympics are postponed/canceled, Comcast has insurance to cover costs.”
Sure. But where does it leave U.S. TV marketers -- as well as bigger worldwide Olympic marketing partnerships? Where is their insurance?