NBCUniversal and its new majority owner, Comcast, paid an awful lot of money to the International Olympic Committee for the exclusive U.S. broadcast rights to the XXX Summer Olympic Games from London, which wrapped up Aug. 12.
Indeed, the combined rights-fee figure for London and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, is believed to be some $2.1 billion. Thus, when Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and the Republican Party decided to essentially pre-empt NBC’s second-to-last-day of Olympic morning programming, it took away a large part of what NBC had paid for. In some circles, that’s called a breach of contract.
NBC is not likely to bring suit against the elephant and its progeny, if for no other reason than this was just one of those things that happens sometimes. In addition, legally, NBC wouldn’t have much of a leg to stand on.
Yet, from a practical and professional standpoint, the GOP took NBC for granted, and NBC could sure argue for a “make-good” (another way of saying a future bargaining chip or a credit in NBC’s favor).
When the Grand Old Party let the word leak Saturday night that Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan was to be the 2012 vice presidential nominee, it basically said to the media, “Tomorrow at 9 a.m. EST, and for about an hour, at minimum, we are taking over your airwaves with our story.”
As part of that, the GOP decided to draft on the strong audience NBC had built during the prior two weeks of the Games. The Romney camp also decided not to wait another 40 hours until the Olympics had ended. Indeed, the GOP decided to do a lot of things that especially impacted NBC and its very positive Olympics coverage with something that most were not expecting during the games — something that probably half the audience was not all that eager to absorb during the games, and something that probably could’ve waited a tiny bit longer.
So, yes, Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts, you should certainly send that bill directly to Mitt Romney, today’s head of the GOP. I’m sure it will be given it ample professional attention: after all, Mitt’s a businessman. And I’d imagine — especially when he has the money in the bank — that he eventually pays his bills.
Jimmy Schaeffler is chairman and CSO of Carmel-by-the-Sea-based telecom consultancy The Carmel Group (www.carmelgroup.com).