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NBC locks up U.S. TV rights to Olympics until 2032

NBC locks up U.S. TV rights to Olympics until 2032

OLYMPICS:Media cameramen shouldering video cameras chat during the women's snowboard slopestyle qualifying round at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games in Rosa Khutor Feb. 6. Photo: Reuters/Mike Blake

By Liana B. Baker

(Reuters) – NBC Universal, the media unit of Comcast Corp, signed a $7.65 billion agreement to be the U.S. broadcaster of the Olympics until 2032, locking up valuable live sports rights for the next two decades, The deal, announced in a joint statement with the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday, includes media rights across broadcast television, cable TV, internet and mobile platforms. The new agreement extends NBC’s previous contract by 11 years.

The host cities of the three summer and three winter games that occur between 2022-2032 have not been awarded yet. The next Olympics to be decided will be the 2022 Winter Games, which the IOC is expected to announce the winner in 2015.

Without an Olympics since the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Games, the United States could be back in the running to host an Olympics in 2024, as interest in bringing the Olympics back to the United States is gaining momentum both at home and among IOC members.

Comcast, which clinched full control of NBC Universal last year, has been using the Olympics as a spring board to promote its prime time lineup and boost viewership of its cable networks.

NBC and its rival networks have been stocking up on live sports content, which are popular with advertisers because large audiences watch in real-time and do not skip the TV commercials.

NBC had previously spent $4.38 billion on the U.S. broadcasting rights for four Olympic games until 2020, which will be in Tokyo. After that deal was announced, NBC executives had said the network should reap a profit from that contract.

But the Olympics haven’t always scored for NBC. The unit lost $223 million at the Vancouver games in 2010, according to General Electric GE.N, which owned NBC at the time. Olympics that feature prime time live events usually perform better in the ratings.

NBC added on Wednesday that it had to agreed pay an extra $100 million signing bonus to promote the Olympics for five years beginning in 2015.

(Reporting by Liana B. Baker in New York, additional reporting by Julian Linden in London; Editing by Franklin Paul and Andrew Hay)

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