Last week, NBC stated that it would give “geopolitical context” to stories in China during the Winter Olympics. What that means exactly remains to be seen.
The network has a lot invested in the games and is expecting a huge payout. It will already deal with the logistical challenges that come with not having any live bodies on site. How much time would the network be willing to devote to telling stories that may encourage viewers to tune out and not support any coverage of the Beijing Games?
Bob Costas was a guest on CNN’s Reliable Sources on Sunday morning. Host Brian Stelter asked what he expected “giving geopolitical context” would mean exactly on the NBC broadcast.
“What I would anticipate is the very thing that you’ve suggested,” Costas answered when Stelter asked if NBC may simply acknowledge that China has been accused of severe human rights violations at the beginning of the two week event. “They will acknowledge the issues at the beginning and not say anything after that unless it something happens that simply cannot be ignored.”
Costas, who hosted NBC’s coverage of the Olympics 12 times between 1988 and 2016, said that he had the utmost respect for his former network and the colleagues that will be covering the event. He notes that there are limitations placed on every broadcaster in a situation like this.
That begins with the fact that doing business with the International Olympic Committee isn’t always easy.
“The IOC deserves all the disdain and disgust that comes their way for going back to China yet again,” he said, pointing out that not only were the Summer Games in Beijing in 2008, but that the 2014 Winter Games were in Sochi, Russia, another country with a history of human rights violations. “They are shameless about this stuff!”
Another issue Bob Costas sees is the investment NBC has made in the Olympics and the way the Games have become a programming event for the network every other year.
“Any network that broadcasts big sports events is simultaneously in a position, it’s quasi-journalistic at best. You’re reporting a news event and what surrounds it. But you’re also promoting the event.”
NBC usually broadcasts NBC Nightly News and The Today Show from the site of the Olympic Games. That will not be the case in 2022. The rise of Covid-19’s omicron variant is the ultimate reason why, but Costas points out that China is an uncomfortable environment for foreign journalists.
Earlier this week, The Washington Post reported that foreign journalists and athletes were being encouraged to use burner cell phones and laptops while they are in China. Many have expressed fear for their privacy and safety after security experts warned of major red flags surrounding Beijing’s official Olympics app meant to help those attending the game navigate the city.
That paranoia, Costas says, is familiar to NBC’s broadcast teams.
“We had that feeling in 2008 in Beijing. I think it has been revved up since then.”
NBC has the US television rights to all Olympic games until 2023. That contract with the IOC was signed in 2014 and cost the network $7.75 billion. That kind of investment will certainly make it hard for the network to want to give viewers a reason to tune out.
Shannon Sharpe Apologizes to Richard Jefferson for Calling Him Lazy
FS1’s Shannon Sharpe took to social media to clear the air between him and ESPN’s Richard Jefferson over some comments Sharpe made about the former NBA champion.
Sharpe said Jefferson was lazy for only wanting to talk about basketball. Jefferson is an NBA analyst for ESPN and doesn’t normally appear on debate shows or provide analysis on other sports.
“There is not a person in this industry since I have retired that would ever refer to my work ethic as being lazy,” Jefferson said in a response video on his TikTok. “So as long as you live don’t ever do that again or this conversation is gonna be much different.”
Sharpe saw the video and apologized saying his assessment of Jefferson was lazy.
“I want to apologize, I come to you as a man, Rich, and apologize to you for my take on what you said,” he said.
Much like Jefferson did, Sharpe then went on to break down the differences between hosts on debate shows who have to watch and study various different sports and analysts like Jefferson who only specialize in analyzing one sport.
But ultimately Sharpe wanted to bury the hatchet and make it clear to the internet that there’s no problems between the two.
“Richard and I do not have a beef,” Sharpe said. “There is nothing going on, and this is my last time addressing this issue.”
Jefferson tweeted on Saturday accepting Shannon’s apology.
NBA Sees Over $800 Million in Advertising Revenue for 2022 Playoffs
Data shows league ad sales for both Disney and Turner Sports, the NBA’s two national TV rights holders, will eclipse $1.3 billion when the playoffs and regular season are factored together.
The NBA and its media partners saw quite a boost in ad revenue over the course of the 2022 playoffs.
Yahoo! cited data from iSpot.tv in a recent report indicating the league saw $842.4 million in revenue for the postseason. That number was up 19% compared to last year and up 54% from 2019.
Data shows league ad sales for both Disney and Turner Sports, the NBA’s two national TV rights holders, will eclipse $1.3 billion when the playoffs and regular season are factored together. The figure makes for a 45% bump from 2020-21 and 39% from 2018-19.
State Farm, AT&T, Google Pixel and Kia Motors were the biggest ad spenders for this season. State Farm spent just over $40 million while AT&T and Google both spent over $30 million.
Despite the television viewership still not climbing back to pre-pandemic levels, the NBA has certainly kept it broadcast partners happy.
Media Rights Deals are Recession-Proof, Benefit from Longer Terms
As recently as last week, Apple and Major League Soccer agreed to a $2.5 billion deal. The NFL is mulling billion-dollar deals for just about everything, most recently the NFL Sunday Ticket package which will leave DirecTV after this year
The U.S. economy may be in the “worry” phase about an upcoming recession, but if recent television deals are any indication, sports leagues are not. Media rights deals continue to skyrocket despite all of other financial indicators showing that people, businesses are currently struggling.
As recently as last week, Apple and Major League Soccer agreed to a $2.5 billion deal. The NFL is mulling billion-dollar deals for just about everything, most recently the NFL Sunday Ticket package which will leave DirecTV after this year. Those are just a couple of examples of the massive figures that seem to run counter what the average person is dealing with.
Media rights seem to be unharmed by overall macroeconomic environment. It’s interesting to look at why.
One of the main reasons seems to be scarcity. There are only so many NFLs in the world. The number might be one. If you have those media rights, you have access to a multitude of cashflow. It’s important to have the product that people want. Since people will not stop wanting their sports, it’s important to have live sports.
Also, fan participation isn’t one that seems to dwindle, overall, even in a pandemic or financial crunch. Fans care about their team, sport and the league they are in. That kind of fervor for a product makes payment to them or to whomever owns their rights to see them, a foregone conclusion.
A huge reason, also, for the value of a franchise and/or media rights deal to be largely unharmed by current economic climates is their length. Those rights are structured to be long-term and hopefully weather whatever financial crisis may be on the horizon in a hope that it is temporary.