UPDATE, 4:45 PM: NBC just released a statement in response to Johnny Weir’s comments this morning that he feels “remorse” for insulting protesters during an appearance Monday at Barnard College. “We’re supportive of Johnny’s apology for his choice of words last night in an emotional setting. As we’ve previously stated, NBC will cover all newsworthy issues as they are relevant to the Games, including the LGBT law”, NBC said.
PREVIOUS: Bob Costas will have to up his game to maintain his reputation as the mouth that roars at NBC Sports during the Winter Olympics, since two-time Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir was added to the on-air team. Costas, who’s known for his outspoken commentary, sounded more like a neutered pit bull the other day when he told the Associated Press he won’t comment on Russia’s so-called “gay propaganda” law because he’s hoping to land an interview with what AP called “responsible people” (read: Russian President Vladimir Putin). While the media wonders what happened to the Costas who vowed in 2012 to rip the International Olympic Committee over its refusal to hold a moment of silence honoring Israelis killed at the 1972 Games in Munich, Weir’s out there making headlines even though the Games don’t happen until February. This week, Weir’s “news” took the form of calling those who protested his refusal to boycott the Russian Games “idiots like the ones outside dumping vodka in the street.”
Related: Olympic Skater Johnny Weir Retires To Work For NBC At Games
NBC, meanwhile, hasn’t gotten back to us about Weir, who announced on Today in late October that he was retiring from competition and joining the the network’s team for the Sochi Olympics. Protesters made the connection during Weir’s appearance Monday at Barnard College in New York; some of those those who were there protesting Weir’s assertion that the Games “are not the place to make a political statement” held a banner that read, “Weir: Russian Olympic Clown; NBC: Naïve Bloody Collaborators.”
This morning, Weir was back in the news again, this time writing in the Falls Church [Va.] News-Press: “I felt, and still feel, a great deal of remorse for allowing myself to insult other people, fighting in their own way, and for using insulting words instead of my usual cheerleading antics for one and all.” READ MORE »
Bob Costas will host the network’s primetime and late night coverage of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games in February. No big surprise there — Costas has served as primetime host for every Olympics on NBC since 1992. But it’s only the second time he’s hosted both in primetime and late night (he did same during the 2000 Sydney Olympics). With the 2014 assignment, he becomes U.S. television’s first 10-time Olympic primetime host. The previous record-holder, Jim McKay, hosted eight times for ABC. (Costas served as NBC’s late night host at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.)
In today’s announcement, Costas, who has the longest tenure of the network’s sports announcers (34 years), called the Olympics “a three-week miniseries which, if done well, should bring viewers not only compelling athletic performances, but a sense of the host city and country, and an appreciation of what is a truly global gathering.” Read More »
Two-time Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir announced on NBC‘s Today this morning that he is retiring from competition and joining the network’s coverage team for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He’ll be joined by 1998 Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinski, and 2006 ice dance silver medalist Tanith Belbin, the network announced. Weir, the two-time Olympian and three-time U.S. champion, and Lipinski, the youngest individual gold medalist in the history of the Olympic Winter Games when she won in Nagano in 1998 at age 15, will serve as analysts for NBC Olympics’ multi-platform figure skating coverage. Belbin, a silver medalist in ice dancing at the Torino Olympics, will serve as a reporter for NBC Olympics’ Sports Desk and will present features for The Olympic Zone, NBC Olympics’ 30-minute daily show for NBC affiliates covering all aspects of the Games. Weir and Lipinski debut on NBC this Sunday at 4 PM ET alongside Terry Gannon on the network’s telecast of the 2013 Skate Canada International, featuring performances from the men’s and ladies’ free skate competitions. Read More »
NBCUniversal’s Symphony Initiative, of which we’ve heard so much of late, will reach a deafening crescendo on October 29, when the networks of NBCU will do its best to make sure you see a new promo for … Read More »
Joe Utichi contributes to Deadline’s UK coverage.
Danny Boyle threatened to resign as artistic director of the opening ceremony of last year’s Olympic Games in London, he has disclosed. In an updated book of conversations with journalist Amy Raphael, to be published on April 4, Boyle claims he butted heads with Games organizers Locog over creative differences and his displeasure with certain decisions being made for the Games. He came “close to walking away” when he heard of plans for ground-to-air missile silos to be installed on buildings near the Olympic site, and became “unbelievably unpleasant” during meetings with Locog. “Occasional threats to resign were useful,” he said. “There’s a terror of bad headlines in the press, which you have to turn to your advantage.” A major point of contention was a stadium wrap being designed by the artist Damien Hirst. Hirst pulled out over a row about sponsorship from Dow Chemical and its links to the Bhopal gas disaster in India in 1984, which killed 15,000 people. “He didn’t want to be associated with Dow,” Boyle said, although Hirst did later contribute a design to the closing ceremony.
Related: Oh Danny Boy! Oh Boo NBC! “Giant Juke Box” Wins Kudos For Olympic Opener; NBC Hammered Back Home
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Jim Bell was executive producer of both NBCUniversal’s London Olympics coverage and NBC‘s morning show Today over the summer. He was replaced yesterday at Today after seven years amid flailing ratings and a widely perceived mishandling of Ann Curry’s ouster, with reports that he would land back at the NBC Olympics unit led by Gary Zenkel. Now he will settle in full-time at NBC Sports Group under chairman Mark Lazarus and have “editorial and creative control.” Here’s the full release:
NEW YORK – November 13, 2012 – Jim Bell, who served as the executive producer of the 2012 London Olympics, the most-watched event in U.S. television history, has been named the full-time Executive Producer of NBCUniversal’s coverage of the Olympic Games. Bell reports to NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus, who made the announcement today.
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Downton Abbey‘s UK broadcaster ITV reported its interim results today with the group’s external revenue up 4% to £1.57B ($2.49B). Non-net advertising revenue was up 15% to £730M ($1.16B), driven by production arm ITV Studios, maker of such programs as Hell’s Kitchen and the upcoming Mr. Selfridge with Jeremy Piven. ITV Studios is expected to turn a profit of over £100M ($158.7M) for the year “and the number of new commissions and recommissions already secured for 2013 gives us confidence that there will continue to be good underlying growth in the Studios business,” boss Adam Crozier noted.
Continuing its five-year transformation plan, the company says total cost savings this year will be about £30M ($47.6M), or £10M ($15.87M) ahead of target. The advertising market has been “broadly flat,” Crozier said. Read More »
It must feel good for the executives from Philadelphia to issue a quarterly earnings report that doesn’t have to urge investors to be patient with NBCUniversal. The cable and entertainment giant generated net income in Q3 of nearly $3B, up 155.4% vs the period last year, on revenues of $16.5B, +15.4%. Comcast‘s revenue figure was well ahead of the $16.1B that analysts expected. And after factoring out one-time gains from the sale of wireless spectrum to Verizon Wireless, and NBCUniversal’s interest in A&E Networks, earnings per share came in a 46 cents — just what the Street anticipated. NBCUniversal more than held its own this time, although with some caveats. The cable networks delivered $2.2B in revenues (+3.2%) and $809M in operating cash flow (+7.6%) as increases in payments from pay TV distributors compensated for what the company says were “flat” advertising sales in the quarter. NBC’s broadcast operations, puffed up by the Olympics, generated $2.8B in revenues (+83.8%) with operating cash flow of $88M (up from a $7M loss last year). The picture looks far less cheery, though, if you take away the impact of the London Games: That would have left broadcast revenues of $1.6B (+5.2%) and a cash flow loss of $25M due to the high programming costs for fall season shows and news expenses to cover the presidential election.
Related: NBCU Chief Says NBC Is “Still Underperforming” Despite Ratings Gains
At the Universal Studios film unit, hits including Ted and The Bourne Legacy contributed to revenues of $1.4B (+23.6%) and operating cash flow of $72M (+31.1%). And Universal’s theme park revenues came in at $614M (+5.8%) with operating cash flow of $316M (+11.2%). Read More »
NBC is learning much more about who watched its coverage of the London Olympics — and as importantly how they watched them. It’s information the network hopes will help it turn a profit on future Olympic Games since NBC has all U.S. TV rights through 2020 via a successful $4.38 billion bid in June. A record 217 million U.S. viewers watched the Summer Games last month, and results from a dozen studies of the viewing habits of 50,000 participants have been revealed to the New York Times ahead of presentations to advertisers next week. Read More »
Bob Costas tonight wryly criticized his bosses, their London Olympics coverage, and NBC‘s infamous sneak preview of its new fall show Animal Practice (“evidently a comedy, at least we’re hoping it is”) to Conan O’Brien, who replied “You’re the best guest ever!”:
This week marks the unofficial start of the 2012-13 broadcast season with the season premiere of NBC’s The Voice tonight, followed by the debuts of new NBC comedies Go On, The New Normal and Guys With Kids and the season openers of NBC’s Parenthood, Fox’s The X Factor and ABC’s Shark Tank. More than ever this year, the Emmy Awards will not signal the kickoff of the new season. Of the five broadcast networks, only ABC — which carries the Emmys and will likely use it as a major promotional platform — and CBS — which has always stuck to a traditional rollout — will premiere the bulk of their fall lineups during premiere week, which starts on September 24.
It is not just the other networks’ desire to avoid the mayhem of premiere week that led to the most scattered fall launch I’ve ever seen — it started August 13 with the second-season premiere of NBC’s Grimm and ends November 2 with the debuts of ABC’s Last Man Standing and Malibu Country. Also factoring in is the fact this is an election year, so networks shifted some premiere dates to get longer runs uninterrupted by the four presidential/vice presidential debates on October 3, 11, 16 and 24 and Election Night on November 6. (ABC has been the most mindful of the disruptions, delaying the season premiere of Suburgatory until October 17 and the series debut of Nashville until October 10 so they only get one pre-emption each.) Additionally, NBC has been aggressive in trying to put on fall originals closer to its ratings record-breaking coverage of the London Olympics. Read More »
NBC Sports Group president Mark Lazarus said today at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit that strong performances at the London Olympics by U.S. teams and athletes led to strong ratings, which boosted the bottom line. NBC had projected … Read More »
Venice Film Fest To Stream Horizons Films To Worldwide Audience
Venice is beginning a new tradition in its 69th year. For the first time ever the festival will make films from the Horizons section available for streaming … Read More »
Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.
The Olympics delivered ratings bonanzas to Australia’s Nine Network and pay TV platform Foxtel although it was a loss-making exercise for Nine and Foxtel reported there was “a tick up” in signing new subscribers. But the halo effect of the Games helped ensure strong launches Monday night for Nine’s Big Brother and Australian crime series Underbelly: Badness. Nine picked up Big Brother after it was cancelled by Network Ten in 2008 after eight seasons and installed a new host in Sonia Kruger. The premiere episode aired at 7 PM and drew an average of 2.25 million viewers nationally, followed at 8.30 PM by Underbelly: Badness, which averaged 2.37 million. Nine’s live broadcast of the Olympics Closing Ceremony (6AM-9AM Australian Eastern Standard Time) averaged 1.48 million viewers. Nine and Foxtel jointly paid $A120 million ($126 million) for the rights to the 2010 and 2012 Games. Jeff Browne, Nine’s managing director, said the network would lose “less than $20 million” on the London Olympics. Foxtel aired the Games on eight dedicated channels, provided at no cost to Fox Sports subscribers, posting record ratings for subscription channels. Read More »
Joe Utichi is Deadline’s London contributor:
Maybe you waited for NBC’s tape-delayed primetime broadcast tonight of the London Olympics Closing Ceremony orchestrated by executive producer Stephen Daldry and artistic director Kim Gavin. The duo promised to put on an unforgettable … Read More »
NBC said today it will stream Sunday’s Olympic closing ceremony live online after all, the AP reported. In changing its position, NBC acknowledged that it has taken plenty of heat over its decision to broadcast tape-delayed coverage … Read More »