Tokyo 2020 generated $1.76 billion in revenue for NBCUniversal in its third quarter according to financial results published by Comcast ©Getty Images

Tokyo 2020 generated $1.76 billion (£1.3 billion/€1.5 billion) of revenue for United States broadcasting rights holder NBCUniversal (NBCU) in its third quarter, according to newly-published financial results from the network’s parent, Comcast.

The media conglomerate said that advertising revenue from NBCU’s media branch was up 73 per cent year-on-year, reflecting "the broadcast of the Tokyo Olympics, higher pricing, and additional Peacock [NBCU’s new streaming service] sales, partially offset by the timing of other sporting events and a decline in ratings."

The unit’s distribution revenue rose 36.2 per cent, with Tokyo 2020 again a factor.

NBCU’s overall revenue for the three months to end-September topped $10 billion (£7.3 billion/€8.65 billion), a sharp 58 per cent increase on the corresponding year-earlier figure of $6.33 billion (£4.6 billion/€5.5 billion).

The media unit’s share of this was $6.77 billion (£4.95 billion/€5.85 billion), up 47.5 per cent from the 2020 third quarter.

In spite of this strong top-line growth, adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) at the media arm advanced only slightly, from $985 million (£720 million/€852 million) a year ago to $997 million (£729 million/€862 million).

Comcast pointed to an increase in operating expenses, saying this was "primarily driven by higher programming and production expenses, reflecting higher sports programming costs associated with the broadcast of the Tokyo Olympics and higher amortisation expense related to programming at Peacock, partially offset by the timing of other sporting events."

NBCUniversal has US broadcasting rights for Olympic Games through until 2032 ©Getty Images
NBCUniversal has US broadcasting rights for Olympic Games through until 2032 ©Getty Images

Comcast said that media unit results included $230 million (£168 million/€199 million) of revenue and an adjusted EBITDA loss of $520 million (£380 million/€450 million) related to Peacock, compared to $41 million (£30 million/€35.5 million) of revenue and an adjusted EBITDA loss of $233 million (£170 million/€201.5 million) in the prior year period.

It is now seven-and-a-half years since NBCU bought US broadcasting rights to the Olympic Games between 2021 and 2032 for $7.65 billion (£5.6 billion/€6.6 billion) plus a $100 million (£73 million/€86.5 million) "signing bonus", in one of the most important commercial agreements in the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s history.

The fee works out at $2.55 billion (£1.86 billion/€2.2 billion) on average per four-year Olympic cycle comprising one Winter and one Summer Games.

Forging the agreement was one of the first major initiatives undertaken by Thomas Bach as IOC President.

Given the lightning pace of change in media markets in recent years, it ranks arguably as the smartest thing the German has done since his 2013 election.

NBCU now has little more than three months to wait before starting to broadcast its next Olympic event - the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

The long-term nature of its deal with the IOC means it is also assured of covering at least one home Olympics - Los Angeles 2028 - when interest from US viewers is likely to skyrocket.