Winter Olympics feel like sports filler
February 13, 2018 3:00 AM
by Mark Mayer
The Winter Olympics is trying to be the bridge between the Super Bowl and March Madness, but interest is down and betting likely the same.
Still, the bucks are rising from NBC, which paid $963 million for the rights to air the Games from PyeongChang, South Korea – a 24 percent jump over the $775 million the network paid for the last Winter Olympics at Sochi, Russia but less than the $1.2 billion it shelved out for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
NBC is fully invested in the Olympics, owning TV rights through 2032. That’s another 14 years and hopefully I will still be watching if not betting. But what exactly can you bet on? The sports are difficult to book. After all, how much curling can one person stand!
Curling is basically shuffleboard on ice with the major weapons of use a top and a mop. It is fascinating to watch for about 15 seconds and then I’m channel surfing. The sport is easy to make fun of, but to be fair it is becoming more and more popular though you only hear about it every four years.
I have always been attracted to the Winter Games, especially the skiing, sledding, speed skating and hockey. I’ll pass on figure skating, a beautiful but totally corrupt sport.
The NHL decided this year not to shut down the season and send its top players to Korea for a couple of weeks. I think that’s a prudent move, especially here in Vegas where we are now directly involved with the Golden Knights.
The sportsbooks would certainly prefer booking the NHL and the incredible success of the Golden Knights. After all, would you rather see the Knights at T-Mobile for six straight home games or have a few of them in Korea while the rest watch the Games like we are?
For me, the Olympics will always be Jim McKay and ABC, which took it to another level. I will still watch loyally, but as a fan and not a bettor.