If you’re viewing the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics, taking place in Beijing, China, on NBC and affiliated networks next month, the voices you’ll be hearing announcing the competition will not be on the other side of the world – they’ll be right here in Connecticut.
“The announce teams for these Olympics, including figure skating, will be calling events from our Stamford (Conn.) facility due to COVID concerns,” Greg Hughes, senior vice president communications, NBC Sports, told multiple news outlets this week.
"We’ll still have a large presence on the ground in Beijing and our coverage of everything will be first rate as usual, but our plans are evolving by the day as they are for most media companies covering the Olympics,” he added. “Technology allows for this and we’ve learned and adapted,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “The viewer experience will be the same as it would have been otherwise, at a very high level.”
NBC Sports is headquartered at 1 Blachley Road in the city, near Interstate 95’s Exit 9 and the Stamford-Darien line. It employs more than 900 in Stamford, according to published reports.
NBC Sports had recently planned to send three broadcast teams to Beijing to cover the Winter Games, which run from Feb. 4-20. But with recent developments in China regarding the highly contagious Omicron variant, potentially putting announcing teams on the sidelines once they were in the country, NBC has decided to keep its announcing teams in the USA, at the network’s broadcast facilities in Stamford. Beijing is now requiring travelers to get a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival in the Chinese capital, state media reported this weekend, after the city reported its first Omicron case.
NBC is still planning to send several hundred technical and support staff to the games, and plans call for NBC's Olympic lead prime time host Mike Tirico to travel to Beijing to cover the first few days of the Games before traveling to Los Angeles to cover Super Bowl LVI, USA Today reported this week. In addition, plans call for Craig Melvin, the news anchor for NBC’s “Today,” to be reporting from Beijing.
In 2014 NBC Universal paid $7.65 billion to extend its U.S. broadcasting rights for the Olympics through 2032. The Beijing Games are the second Olympics NBC will broadcast in the coronavirus pandemic. The network’s broadcast of the Tokyo Games, which were delayed for a year because of the pandemic, drew the smallest audience for the Summer Games since NBC began broadcasting them in 1988, according to a Reuters report.
The Stamford headquarters – attracted to the state with financial incentives during the administration of former Governor Dannel Malloy, has served as the studio hub for a numerous NBC Sports’ programs, including the NFL, NHL, NASCAR, English Premier League soccer and Notre Dame college football, in addition to recent Olympic games.