NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus stands by the decision to edit IOC president Thomas Bach’s Sochi Games Opening Ceremony speech, and said he was not surprised the Bob Costas pinkeye story had gone “viral” because Costas is a national Olympics institution. In a wide-ranging phone call with reporters today, Lazarus also said he was not worried the lackluster performance by U.S. athletes so far would translate to lower ratings, and dismissed suggestions NBC’s primetime tape delays would impact numbers, calling it an out-of-date notion. But he also said a focus on NBC’s primetime ratings, or even NBC’s ratings, was too narrow a way to look at Games’ performance for the company.
Related: Olympics 5-Day Ratings Even With Vancouver 2010, Ahead Of Torino
Lazarus and NBCUniversal research president Alan Wurtzel said that, as with the London Summer Games, they have discovered that extra digital content helps, not hurts, primetime ratings. “The more devices people use to view the Olympics on, the more they watch…A rising tide lifts all boats,” Wurtzel said. In a rat-a-tat presentation, Wurtzel tossed out a storm of stats demonstrating the network’s flood-the-zone, mostly live Olympics presentation strategy was working well and having no negative impact on NBC’s Games ratings in primetime. “Our strategy of providing more live coverage across all our platforms is once again proving to be very appealing,” Lazarus said. “Viewers want event programming. There is no bigger event than the Olympics. Our multi-platform presentation style has clearly resonated with them,” he said.
More than 30 million people in the United States have visited its Olympics websites, up 54 percent from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, the execs said.
Read More »
Mark Lazarus has bolstered his executive team at NBC Sports Group, hiring former ESPN executive Rob Simmelkjaer at SVP of NBC Sports Ventures, a unit that comprises NBC-owned businesses like the Alliance of Action Sports, the American Century Golf Championship, the ADT Golf Skills Challenge, the Heads Up Poker Championship and the National Dog Show. Simmelkjaer also will lead international business development at the sports group — drawing on his experience managing ESPN/Disney’s Olympics relationship as ESPN’s VP International Development and Corporate Projects — and he will also oversee its stake in Universal Sports. He reports to Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics and EVP Strategic Partnerships at NBC Sports Group. Meanwhile, Lazarus also promoted Earl Marshall to CFO; he had been CFO of the NBC Sports Cable Group. He will have oversight of the NBC Sports Group consisting of NBC Sports, Olympics, Versus, Golf Channel, the 11 regional sports networks and digital assets and report to Lazarus.
Another name change post Comcast-NBCUniversal merger. At TCA’s press tour today, Mark Lazarus, Chairman of the NBC Sports Group, announced that sports channel Versus, previously owned by Comcast, was being re-branded as the NBC Sports Network beginning on Jan. 2, 2012. Comcast’s sports properties had already been folded into the NBC Sports Group immediately after the merger. Lazarus called the re-branding a reflection of “a strategic refocusing of the Versus brand to leverage the heritage of NBC Sports on cable.” Also getting a face-lift is the NBC Sports logo, which has been slightly updated.
Good Riddance, NBC Sports’ Dick Ebersol
International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said today that Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts and NBCUniversal bosses Steve Burke and Gary Zenkel have assured him that the resignation of NBC Sports & Olympics president Dick Ebersol does not alter NBC’s plan to bid on the next round of U.S. Olympic broadcast rights next month, a competition that is expected to include ABC/ESPN and Fox. Rogge told the Associated Press that the news of Ebersol’s departure was a “shock,” certainly in part because the move comes less than three weeks before the IOC opens bidding in Laussane, Switzerland, on deals for the 2014 and 2016 Olympics. It’s a process Ebersol has overseen countless times for NBC, which has broadcast every Summer Olympics since 1988 and every Winter Games since 2002. (In 2003, NBC won the current rights package with a $2.2 billion bid to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics — the network reportedly lost $200 million on that one — and the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympics in London.) ”The three reiterated the full support of NBC/Comcast for the Olympic movement and the Olympic Games,” Rogge told AP. “They said they would come for the bidding. They … made it very clear that the resignation of Dick had absolutely nothing to do with the bidding.” Read More »
With Comcast’s acquisition of NBC Universal completed, the newly formed NBC Sports Group – which consists of NBC Sports, Golf Channel, VERSUS and 11 Comcast regional sports networks – this morning unveiled its executive structure under chairman Dick Ebersol. Turner veteran Mark Lazarus, who has long been rumored to take run the new group’s cable properties, is the only outsider on the team, while NBC Sports execs are being given the reins of Comcast’s Versus and Golf Channel. Here is a rundown of the new exec hierarchy: Read More »