Let’s first start with a potential resurgence of the pandemic virus in this summer's Tokyo games. The numbers are a big issue for thousands of athletes, spectators and participants. Government officials have yet to talk about restricting attendance. Reports say many of Japan’s citizens aren't vaccinated.
Now, look several months out to the Beijing Winter Olympics in February. It’s still possible the virus may make havoc there, too. And that’s not the end of that story.
The issue of alleged human-rights violations by China is something nations are considering n terms of a response. The word “boycott” has been floated.
For its part, after some conflicting reports, the U.S. State Department says this is not the case. While they are not talking boycott, they have specific concerns over human rights.
The Olympics is a massive moneymaking machine for NBCUniversal, which airs the two-week event every other year.
It regularly pulls in $1.1 billion to $1.3 billion in national TV advertising per event, with the Summer Games earning a bit more than the Winter Games. It is also a major marketing platform for U.S. companies.
Let’s talk boycotts: In 1980, the U.S. boycotted the Moscow Summer Games in response to the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. In turn, the Soviet Union boycotted the Los Angeles Summer Olympics Games in 1984, claiming its athletes would not be safe from protests and possible physical attacks.
Concerning TV coverage, NBC aired far fewer images of the Moscow games than the planned 150-hour coverage. Many NBC affiliates even refused to air highlights in their local news coverage.
For NBCUniversal, there’s a bigger picture about sports content going forward -- a least over the next nine months.
The media company does well with the NFL’s “Sunday Night Football.” But beyond that, there is much less high-profile sports stuff that can be monetized in a big way. In fact, at the end of this year, it is abandoning NBCSN, its national sports TV channel.
By way of comparison, the only thing rivaling this is the $450 million or $500 million take from the Super Bowl. NBC is one of a handful of TV networks to get this plum assignment every couple of years, along with ABC, Fox and CBS.
At last count -- March 2020 -- NBC totaled $1.25 billion in national TV ad spend for the Tokyo Games. So, for the TV network group and U.S. based TV marketers, now what?