By Barry Janoff
December 4, 2016: As judged by the numbers, USA Track & Field, the national governing body for track & field, long-distance running and race walking in the U.S., had a very good year in terms of wins, marketing and athlete activation.
The latest proof: What was called an “historic” eight-year agreement signed with NBC Sports Group that gives NBC Sports the exclusive U.S. media rights to USA Track & Field’s live, elite-athlete competitions through 2024.
The pact, which was also called the "longest and most comprehensive agreement ever between the two parties," encompasses the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo and the 2024 Games, which could take place in the Los Angeles, Paris or Budapest (with the International Olympic Committee scheduled to name a host city in September 2017).
Financial terms were not shared.
The pact was unveiled at the USATF’s annual three-day meeting, held in Orlando this past week, during which USATF CEO Max Siegel delivered a "State of the Sport" address that spotlighted achievements of USATF and its athletes this past year.
Among them, track & field athletes winning 32 Olympic medals during the Rio Summer Games — which USATF said was the most at a non-boycotted Games since 1932.
USATF athletes in 2016 earned just shy of $7 million in cash from USATF program sources.
That included more than $2.6 million cash in prize money at USATF championship events (i.e. Olympic Trials, Indoor Championships, road racing, cross-country championships) and almost $1.86 million in cash via the USATF Elite Athlete Revenue Distribution Plan, which provided $10,000 to each athlete competing at the Olympic Games and payments for medal-winning performances.
According to Siegel, track & field athletes in 2016 also earned more than $4.4 million in cash from other publicly available streams.
It was also a good year for USATF marketing deals.
USATF signed four new corporate partners in 2016: Chobani, Garden of Life, KT Tape and NormaTec, accordingn to Siegel.
In addition to the NBC Sports pact, USATF also has deals that include Nike (through 2040), Hershey, Visa, BMW, Rosetta Stone, University of Phoenix and Gatorade.
In 2017, an alliance between USATF and the American Cancer Society will be anchored by a fundraising effort that will raise money for cancer research and USATF Youth programs.
Under terms of the new broadcast pact, NBC Sports will present every year from 2017 through 2024 at least 18 hours of live USATF event coverage, with no fewer than eight hours per year on the NBC broadcast network.
NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app will stream all linear content as well as additional digital-only USATF programming.
That includes such USATF properties as the USATF Indoor and Outdoor Championships; and invitational events including USA vs. The World at the Penn Relays, the Nike Prefontaine Classic, Millrose Games and Drake Relays.
NBC Sports will also televise USATF’s annual Black Tie & Sneakers Gala, a red-carpet affair that includes the USATF National Track & Field Hall of Fame Induction and special awards to the sport’s top legends and contributors.
"NBC Sports’ commitment to USATF’s live media properties elevates our profile on all fronts, from competition to the bottom line."
That is all in addition to its NBC’s coverage of the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Trials and Olympic Games.
"We are pleased to continue our relationship on a long-term basis with USA Track & Field under of the leadership of Max Siegel," Gary Zenkel, President, NBC Olympics, said in a statement. "This historic eight-year agreement is a tribute to the longstanding success of American track & field athletes, who earned 32 medals and 13 golds in Rio.
"We look forward to helping build more stars through the next eight years in the lead up to both Tokyo 2020 and the 2024 Games,” said Zenkel.
According to Siegel, "NBC Sports’ commitment to USATF’s live media properties elevates our profile on all fronts, from competition to the bottom line . . . By working together to structure a true partnership, we are excited to have an exclusive home for all of our competitions.
"For the first time, fans will know that there is only one place to go for the best live domestic track & field broadcasts every year," said Siegel.
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