Summer Olympics, coronavirus

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

9 March 2020

Another victim of the coronavirus: The Summer Olympics

The coronavirus produces many effects. The nearly 4,000 dead worldwide with more than 111,000 people contracting the virus. The belly flop of the world’s economy. A president worried more about protecting his own reputation than the health of his constituents. (A subject for another time.) And the potential of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo being canceled.

Officials with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are discussing canceling the event (unlikely) or holding events without fans in attendance. The latter is already happening in Italy, with the country’s top soccer league playing matches in empty stadiums.

Summer OlympicsMy guess is that the Summer Olympics will go on as scheduled, but what do I know? The effects of the coronavirus are unpredictable and few can make predictions about its coming effects.

But, even though it is of little consequence in the big scheme of things, the effect of a Summer Olympics cancellation (or some other variation) would have far-reaching economic consequences from brands suddenly watching millions go down the drain to to mens the rollout of Peacock by NBC.

Now, before you weep for Comcast (which owns NBC) and the more than $1.2 billion it spent for the rights, know that the media giant is covered in the case of a cancellation. Its CEO, Brian Roberts, said Comcast holds insurance and contractual protections so it doesn’t just lose a billion dollars.

“The economic impact of a Summer Olympics cancellation would be enormous. All those ad campaigns would fall by the wayside, however, with brands having spent millions on ads that may never run. Think about that effect on the world’s economy. The cancellation would impact more than just little ole Comcast and NBC.”

The economic impact of a Summer Olympics cancellation

The economic impact would be enormous. All those ad campaigns would fall by the wayside, however, with brands having spent millions on ads that may never run. Think about that effect on the world’s economy. The cancellation would impact more than just little ole Comcast and NBC.

Or even Peacock. The Summer Olympics presents the keystone for the launch of the streaming service as it sets to compete with Netflix, Disney+, Amazon, Hulu and the upcoming HBO Max.

Without the games, Peacock just becomes another streaming service for you to consider. With little new to entice your subscription dollars.

My point is that a cancellation or dilution of the Summer Olympics would have greater impact on Comcast and NBC than just losing out on the advertising dollars. It would greatly impact the launch of its future.

A recent report by Vulture’s Joe Adalian says networks are putting more TV development dollars into its streaming services rather than traditional TV. The launch of FX on Hulu demonstrates that. As FX chief John Landgraf (who named this era as Peak TV and is called the Mayor of TV by many reporters) said, “streaming services have a much greater potential to achieve high levels of brand fanaticism than a brand on a linear channel.”

For NBC, a cancellation of the Summer Olympics would be borderline disastrous for Peacock.

The coronavirus remains insidious in many ways. And its effects reach into areas of our world that we haven’t even considered. It’s all consuming, and the economic reverberations are still coming.

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