It was announced today that NBC has retained the U.S. television rights to four more Olympic Games spanning the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia through to the as yet to be named Summer Games of 2020. The peacock network out bid rivals ESPN and FOX with a $4.38 billion offer. NBC has held U.S. rights for the last seven Olympics, beginning in 2000 and going through the 2012 London Games.
For track fans this cannot be seen as anything but a major dissapointment. No matter what FOX or ESPN would have offered, NBC’s view of track is well established. For their coverage of Beijing 2008, they lobbied the IOC to reschedule the once centerpiece track and field competition out of live U.S. prime time to make room for women’s gymnastics, beach volleyball, and Michael Phelps quest for eight swimming gold medals.
There was some speculation that NBC’s new owners, Comcast, might forego the Olympics after the resignation of Dick Ebersol, NBC’s point man in past Olympic bids. Now, they are here to stay.