NBCUniversal to stream major Tokyo Olympics events in push for Peacock viewers


FILE PHOTO: The logo of the Tokyo Olympic Games, at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office building in Tokyo, Japan, January 22, 2021. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo/File Photo

June 23, 2021

By Helen Coster and Sheila Dang

(Reuters) -NBCUniversal will air some of the most anticipated Tokyo Olympics events, including gymnastics and U.S. Men’s basketball, on its streaming platform Peacock, the company said Wednesday, in an effort to draw more viewers to the service.

The Olympics, which this summer will have limited spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are an opportunity for the Comcast Corp-owned media company to attract advertiser dollars and promote Peacock at a time when viewers are watching less live TV. NBCUniversal paid $7.65 billion to extend its U.S. broadcast rights for the Olympics through 2032.

The Games continue to face backlash as a majority of the Japanese public oppose holding the Olympics while the country struggles with COVID-19 infections. Just 8.2% of Japanese citizens have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Wednesday, according to a Reuters tracker.

But the worldwide sports event is critical for NBCUniversal to garner attention to Peacock, which was a late entrant into the streaming wars and competes with deep-pocketed players like Netflix and Walt Disney Co’s Disney+.

Live coverage of some of the most popular sports like track and field and events featuring superstars such as U.S. gymnast Simone Biles will be available for free on Peacock, the company said, though U.S. Men’s basketball will require a premium subscription.

Comedian Kevin Hart and rapper Snoop Dogg will headline a new commentary series on Peacock to recap highlights of the Games.

Peacock, which launched across the United States last July, offers a free, ad-supported version and two paid options: a $4.99-per-month service with commercials and 20,000 hours of programming; and an ad-free version costing $9.99 per month.

The Olympics will take place from July 23 to Aug. 8.

(Reporting by Helen Coster in New York and Sheila Dang in DallasEditing by Marguerita Choy and Jonathan Oatis)

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