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.
Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX
“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”
FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.
A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.
The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.
Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.
That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.
Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.
FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”
The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.
Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.
Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”
Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.
“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.
FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.
NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC
“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”
ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.
ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.
This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.
Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.
“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”
ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.