NBCUniversal needs the Olympics, but is Tokyo ready to host?

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The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were rescheduled for 2021 and begin in just a few weeks. The Olympics are hugely important to NBCUniversal and the IOC, so the Games are forging ahead, despite health risks. Photo by Jo Galvao / Shutterstock

The Olympics begin on July 23, but many in Tokyo say they’re not ready to host because Japan’s vaccination rate is still under 10%. The Olympics are critically important to NBCUniversal — the official broadcaster of the Games — and its streaming service Peacock.  

Jimmy Kimmel had harsh words for NBCUniversal at the TV upfronts in May, saying, “NBC is planning to move forward with the Olympics this summer, even if they have to kill every last person in Japan to do it.”

After being rescheduled from last summer, the Games seem to be going ahead because there’s so much money involved. Between commitments made by NBCUniversal and the IOC, billions of dollars are at stake. 

NBCUniversal is counting on the Olympics to provide a big boost for Peacock, which the Wall Street Journal revealed only has 10 million paying subscribers. 

There will likely be some kind of Olympics content exclusive to Peacock, but it’s unclear how many viewers will be driven to sign up to watch Olympic events that may be lacking some of the glory and glamor of previous Games. This year will have a limited number of fans on site, and the ones that are allowed will have to wear masks and are being asked to clap instead of cheer



Kaitlin Parker