“Bad Luck” Has Kept Tokyo Olympics TV Ratings Below Forecasts, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell Concedes, But Profits And Peacock Perks Remain

Business

Deadline 29 July, 2021 - 09:09am 41 views

Does Peacock have live Olympic coverage?

NBCUniversal plans to show 7,000 hours of Olympics coverage across all its broadcast and cable networks as well as Peacock, which offers a free tier, making it an outlet for cord cutters. The New York TimesNBC Expects to Turn Profit on Tokyo Olympics

It’s not just you, streaming the Olympics is a mess

The Verge 30 July, 2021 - 08:20am

Streaming the Games has been so much harder than it needed to be

Peacock’s coverage was a problem straight out of the gate. The opening ceremony wasn’t streamed live on the service at all (though the closing ceremony will be), even though it was streamed live on the NBC Olympics website. The service is paywalling men’s basketball, seemingly to boost Peacock’s paid plans. And while live broadcasts and on-demand coverage of most other games and events are available for free on Peacock, finding out what’s on and where to watch it has been a chore, comparable to flicking through a cable TV guide. (Disclosure: NBCUniversal is an investor in Vox Media, parent company of The Verge.)

Watching on Peacock also means missing out on one of NBC’s biggest promises for the 2020 Games: 4K coverage. Peacock doesn’t support 4K, even while 4K feeds from the games are available on other streaming services. (A spokesperson for Peacock told The Verge that delivering 4K content is on its roadmap.)

That means you had to turn to TV or a live TV service if you wanted to watch in 4K. But 4K coverage has its own set of problems. Availability has been inconsistent in the US — it depends on where you are, what service you’re subscribed to, and what programming you’re watching. YouTube TV and Comcast, for example, offer 4K Olympics coverage in dozens of major cities, but other services like FuboTV and Verizon Fios only offer it in a few. If you’re outside those regions, tough luck.

NBC is also only providing 4K coverage of certain games at certain times. Live NBC coverage is streamed in 4K sometimes, in some places, while other markets will only get 4K re-airings the following day. This can lead to some real confusion if you’re paying extra for 4K features on a service like YouTube, with its recently introduced 4K Plus add-on. While all 4K Plus subscribers can see live events on the Olympic Channel and the Golf Channel, as well as next-day re-airings of primetime NBC coverage, 4K primetime coverage from NBC is limited to around 50 markets.

Basically, some folks are getting live NBC primetime coverage in 4K while others are not. A spokesperson for YouTube TV said it took all the 4K coverage that NBC made available to the service. NBCUniversal did not respond to multiple requests for comment about why 4K support was available in select markets and not others.

Despite NBC’s big hurrah about broadcasting the Olympics in 4K, it’s unclear whether the 4K footage carried by NBC is really even in 4K. Speaking with NBC executive David Mazza, IBC reported that NBC was upconverting some 1080p feeds to 4K. NBC would not confirm whether the feeds are 4K or upscaled 1080p when asked by The Verge.

Beyond the technical limitations, there’s also been some confusion around finding where to watch different Olympic games. Live programming has been spread across a bunch of different channels due to the scope of the Games — USA Network, CNBC, NBCSN, Olympic Channel, Golf Channel, and Telemundo are all carrying coverage — so much so that NBC Olympics has regularly published guides to help find what’s on. Peacock’s digital-first platform could have been a huge help in sorting through the mess, but NBC just translated the experience of channel flipping to its app, offering little advantage to cord-cutters. If you do want to watch any of the Games live, you may have to do some additional legwork to find them.

A spokesperson for Peacock said that the service is currently experimenting and will use what it’s learning to inform its coverage for the Beijing Olympics in 2022. The spokesperson also said there wasn’t a specific reason the closing ceremony would be livestreamed on Peacock while the opening ceremony was not.

For many users, the Olympics was likely the first time they had a reason to subscribe to Peacock, which offers both a free and ad-supported tier as well as two paid tiers (one with limited ads and one that’s ad-free). And the tie-in with the 2020 Tokyo Games seems to be working. According to recent data from app analytics company App Annie, mobile downloads of Peacock surged 60 percent in the first few days of the Olympics.

But in practice, actually streaming the Olympics — and specifically the ability to access some events in real time and at higher resolutions — has been a mess. Offering the Games on Peacock was NBCUniversal’s high-stakes Hail Mary for boosting its subscribers, and hopefully, getting users to stick around post-event. But somewhere along the way, something got lost in the shuffle. And what we ended up with instead is a complicated system that made streaming an even bigger headache than it already is.

Subscribe to get the best Verge-approved tech deals of the week.

Check your inbox for a welcome email.

“Bad Luck” Has Kept Tokyo Olympics TV Ratings Below Forecasts, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell Concedes, But Profits And Peacock Perks Remain

CNBC 29 July, 2021 - 09:09am

NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell concedes that linear ratings for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been lower than expected, but says the company will still book a profit on the star-crossed Games.

“We had a little bit of bad luck, there was a drumbeat of negativity, the Games got moved a year, no spectators,” Shell said during Comcast’s second-quarter earnings call with analysts. The negatives have created a drag on the linear side, but “the flip side is that the digital strength has kind of offset that. … Net-net, with all this bad luck, we’re going to be profitable on these Olympics, which we’re very happy with.”

Shell did not offer any specific numbers, noting there is still “a long way to go” before the closing ceremony on August 8. The 2016 Rio Olympics, the company has said, produced a profit of $250 million. Because of the way Comcast and NBCU organize their accounting, the Games are not broken out as a line item in financial reports, but execs have often sprinkled figures into their public remarks.

Along with the saga of Covid-19, which has kept arenas empty and wreaked havoc with the competition lineups, there have also been downbeat surprises with the athletes. Perhaps none has been bigger than the No. 1 gymnast in the world, Simone Biles, withdrawing from the team and individual competitions this week. That robbed NBCU of one of the few recognizable faces of the Games.

“We’ve had some bad luck,” Shell said again, never mentioning any athletes by name, “but if you look at the product, it’s fantastic. On Peacock, what we learn on this Olympics, we will take to Beijing [in winter 2022] and change the product, change the offering.”

Some users have complained on social media about the dynamics of Peacock and the work-in-progress fit with the company’s broadcast and cable networks.

“We’re learning a lot as consumption continues at the Olympics,” Shell said. “Not to ruin anybody tuning in, but a big upset just happened in the past hour and you can tune in tonight on NBC to see that.” (His tease typified the balancing act the company faces with Games outside the U.S. time zones — though anyone within reach of a smart phone knew Shell was referring to Suni Lee’s gold medal.)

Is all of this hassle worth it? “It’s impossible to overstate the importance of the Olympics to NBC and NBCUniversal,” Shell said. “It’s not really financially, it’s more operationally across the company. We have 4,000 people working on it.” The Games also provide a showcase for the company’s broadband and TV platforms and offer it a “firehose” with which it can spray out promotions for a range of other offerings.

Shell said the Games have been a key reason why Peacock has reached 54 million sign-ups and 20 million monthly active accounts, which is “much further ahead than we expected to be at this point.”

Asked by an analyst about the spending outlook, he said the company will “probably” boost spending on content, at least modestly. But Shell expects a number of high-profile bits of programming to land between 2022 and 2024. He cited a big-ticket green-light of three Exorcist sequels from Blumhouse, which provide “optionality” with release windows and, he said, would only have been possible with Peacock in the mix.

Universal Studios movies next year will start going to Peacock after their electronic sell-through and transactional VOD availability in a new pay-1 setup. In 2024, a large number of Hulu titles not already back in the Comcast fold will revert to Peacock as per an agreement with Disney, which now fully controls Hulu.

Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.

Comments On Deadline Hollywood are monitored. So don't go off topic, don't impersonate anyone, and don't get your facts wrong.

Guess “Bad Luck” is NBC terminology for “no one is watching” and/or “no one cares”.

Could NBC do us a favor and actually show us sports instead of endless interviews with friends and coaches? I’m not dating any of these amazing athletes, why do I need to meet their parents?

NBCU continues to degrade the Olympics by continuing to not provide live programming so true Olympics fans. NBCU=Dinosaurs. Even their highlight packages are EDITED so you don’t see the whole event, because the extra 2 laps of each leg of a 200m swim really don’t matter to them, utterly shameful! For years clearly Mark Lazarus doesn’t give a hoot about sport other than the money to leverage from it. So, we find other ways around that, VPNs are very useful in that regard to see broadcasts by other countries. Roll on 2032, hopefully long before that the IOC will award some other platform the opportunity to air the games.

How to watch everything on NBC, Peacock and more

New and returning series on broadcast, cable and streaming

Series that made it or didn’t make it in 2020-21

Get our latest storiesin the feed of your favorite networks

We want to hear from you! Send us a tip using our annonymous form.

Sign up for our breaking news alerts

Copyright © 2021 Penske Business Media, LLC. All Rights reserved.

These cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Comcast Expects to Make Profit on Tokyo Olympics, Despite Travails

Variety 29 July, 2021 - 08:39am

By Brian Steinberg

TV ratings have fallen, top athletes have dropped out and live crowds aren’t around to cheer, but executives at Comcast still believe in the power of broadcasting the Olympics.

“We’ve had some bad luck,” acknowledged Jeff Shell, chief executive of Comcast’s NBCUniversal, which has the rights to telecast the sports extravaganza, during a call with investors on Thursday. Even so, he said, “We are going to be profitable on the Olympics.”

The executive’s upbeat projection comes as the company’s linear broadcasts of Olympic events in primetime have gotten off to a rough start, with ratings down as much as 30% over the first three nights from NBC’s Summer Olympics broadcast from Rio in 2016.  Media buyers, spooked by the downturn as well as the recent unexpected departure from competition by gymnast Simone Biles, have ramped up conversations with NBCU about “make goods,” or ad inventory given to clients to make up for unrealized audience guarantees.

Linear ratings for the Olympics “are probably less than we expected,” said Shell, who noted that new strength in digital viewing is helping to offset that loss.

Comcast and NBCU are grappling with many of the same challenges as others in the media industry. As consumers migrate to new streaming-video venues that let them watch whatever they like at moments of their own choosing, traditional TV operations are suffering. Media companies continue to make their biggest money from the sale of commercial inventory in primetime, and NBCU has said it expects to surpass the $1.2 billion worth of advertising it sold in the 2016 Rio Games.

But Comcast has invested heavily in the Olympics, and Shell said the event has become a pillar of the company’s business. Comcast and NBCU paid $4.4 billion for a rights deal that allowed them to cover the Olympics in the U.S. through 2020, and greed to pay $7.75 billion for broadcast rights to the Olympic Games between 2021 and 2032.

NBCU faced similar challenges at Rio. In 2016,  The company was able to meet advertiser guarantees by granting sponsors extra commercial time, and came away from the event with approximately $250 million in profit

These cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Business Stories