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NBC’s Next Disaster: The 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver

The past few weeks of NBC’s bad publicity regarding the late night fiasco between Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien haven’t helped the network’s finances. Wasted money on two productions along with less than thrilling ratings has cost NBC millions upon millions of precious revenue. On top of that, NBC’s struggling prime-time ratings have hindered their ability to promote the Vancouver games, which begin Feb. 12.

NBC also knows going in that it will lose millions of dollars on the Olympics but insists that no corners will be cut that will be noticeable by viewers. “The squabbling over late night has really overshadowed anticipation for the Games,” said Shari Anne Brill, an analyst for the Madison Avenue firm Carat USA.

But John Swallen, senior vice president of research for TNS Media Intelligencer, cautioned against connecting NBC’s other problems with interest in the Olympics. “Ultimately, it’s the competition and the personalities of the athletes involved in the competition that makes the difference between a ratings bonanza and a ratings disaster,” Swallen said. “And you can’t predict that until the games unfold.”

NBC’s parent company, GE, said its loss from the upcoming Olympics would be a “couple hundred million.” The company said a recent improvement in advertising demand would not be enough to offset losses.

“It’s an expensive property that they are selling in a tough economy,” said Paul Swangard, managing director of the University of Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. “However, there are other benefits of having the Olympics for GE and its NBC family of television channels.”

It was NBC’s pricey NFL football contract, for the right to broadcast “Sunday Night Football,” and Universal’s lackluster DVD sales that put a drag on NBC Universal’s earnings. The company’s network struggles were compounded by weakness at the Los Angeles-based movie studio.

GE also owns Universal Studios.

The Universal Pictures studio generated $1.2 billion in revenue for the quarter, down $400 million from the fourth quarter of 2008. “We didn’t have any big films in the fourth quarter, in terms of theatrical, but we had very tough DVD comparisons,” Sherin said.

For NBC Universal, profit fell 30% to $602 million from the same period a year earlier. Revenue slipped 4% to $4.26 billion.

3 Responses to “NBC’s Next Disaster: The 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver”
Lars - February 16th, 2010 at 12:47 am

NBC’s Olympic coverage? What coverage? Just crap, crap, crap and more pompous crap. I hope they belly up before the next Olimpics or I migh have to move to Afghanistan to watch it.

john - February 19th, 2010 at 1:33 pm

absolutely right…..garbage coverage!!!!! What a useless olympic coverage !

Gerrit Zwart - February 27th, 2010 at 10:29 pm

Regarding the Olympics I would assume that NBC stands for No Broadcast Channel………….What a Disaster for people like me who want to see the Olympics!!!

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