Comcast/NBC Universal faces an uphill battle to make the 2016 Rio Olympics a success. It’s public knowledge that Olympic preparations in Rio de Janeiro have not gone smoothly, with new reports coming out daily about the impending ‘disaster’ the Rio Olympics are sure to be.
Even though Brazilian officials have completely discounted the Zika virus as a public health concern, many fans and athletes have let their cautious side take control, and are no longer attending the games. According to The Telegraph, the world’s top four golfers, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth have all pulled out from competing in the Olympics games due to concerns over contracting the Zika virus, even though 2016 marks golf’s return to the Olympics as a medal sport for the first time in 112 years. In addition to Zika, there is grave concern over security for the 2016 games, with both The Times of India and French media outlet France 24 publishing articles titled ‘Will Rio Olympics Be A Security ‘Hell’?’ earlier today. To ensure security and assuage foreign visitor’s concerns, 85,000 security personnel will be deployed for the Rio games, over twice as many as the 40,000 used in the 2012 London games.
However, Comcast has a solid plan in place to produce a healthy profit from the Rio Olympics–whether the games themselves are a success or failure. While Comcast spent $1.27 Billion on the U.S. rights to broadcast the games, it has already sold $1 Billion of ad space, as reported by Variety. The $1.27 Billion spent on rights is not much more than the $1.18 Billion spent on the rights to the London Olympics. The London Olympics made Comcast a modest profit, so with the relatively small increase in the price of rights between London and Rio, it shouldn’t be too hard for Comcast to turn a net profit on the 2016 games.
In addition to conventional television and streaming options, viewers with Comcast’s new X1 cable box will be able to access the cable provider’s new X1 Olympics app. According to Variety, Comcast expects 11 million subscribers will have the new X1 platform by the games’ Opening Ceremony. The revolutionary X1 cable box connects the user’s TV to the cloud through the cable box, enabling an unprecedented amount of live-streamed and on-demand video content. Comcast plans to heavily leverage the live-streaming opportunity during the Rio games, which will occur in a time zone only one hour off that of most of the United States. This means that the 2016 games will have the most live TV events aired in the U.S. since the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Bringing the Rio games into the future, Comcast plans to offer 85 hours of Virtual Reality content, allowing Samsung VR device owners to feel like they’re right on Copacabana beach with Olympic volleyball players.
The Opening Ceremony for the 2016 Rio Olympics airs August 5th at 7PM Eastern on NBC.