NBC’s Tokyo Olympics has a new contestant.
Molly Solomon, a veteran sports producer who has been with NBC since 1990, has been tapped as the new executive producer of NBCUniversal’s Olympics broadcast, one of the most important production jobs at the Comcast-owned media conglomerate. She begins her new role immediately, with just months to go before NBCU telecast the 2020 Olympics from Tokyo.
She will oversee all day-to-day editorial production of NBC Olympics’ coverage of the Games, as well as the company’s Olympic Channel cable outlet. She will continue to oversee production of NBC Sports Group’s Golf Channel as well, a position she has held since 2012. She replaces Jim Bell, the longtime NBC news and sports producer, who recently departed.
Solomon will keep her current role at the company’s Golf Channel, where she oversees production, a role she has held since 2012.
“We are excited to put oversight of our Olympic presentation into her exceptionally-qualified hands, and are especially proud to see a long-time and well-liked member of our NBC team return to her roots,” said Pete Bevacqua, president of NBC Sports, in a statement.
The producer takes the helm of an event that is of paramount importance to NBCU and Comcast, with 35 weeks to go before its start. The companies are in the midst of a $4.4 billion rights deal that lets them cover the Olympics in the U.S. through 2020, and have already agreed to pay $7.75 billion for broadcast rights to the Olympic Games between 2021 and 2032. NBCU has already projected that its 17 days of Tokyo coverage will generate in excess of $1.2 billion in advertising.
In a call with reporters Tuesday, NBC Sports executives said the company has been preparing for its Tokyo telecast for at least two years, but suggested Solomon would have ample time to put her stamp on the event. The Olympics, said Solomon, “is not a property that’s broken or needs to be fixed,” but can always be adapted to new kinds of viewer behavior. “I use my family as a focus group. I love to watch the way my kids consume media. I kind of study it. They don’t know, they think I’m nagging them and I am trying to see what they are looking at. It helps me reflect and consider how we are gong to tell the stories of Tokyo.”
NBCUniversal does plan to provide some Olympics content to Peacock, the streaming-video service it intends to launch in 2020, said Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics. “The form of that content will be disclosed in due course,” he said.
Executives believe the Tokyo setting will help NBCUniversal’s broadcast, as it will allow for the broadcast of top events during primetime. “We have an advantageous timeslot in Tokyo, and I am looking to see what else we can do to really exploit that.”
Solomon said she received news of her promotion while playing golf in Orlando, and did not take an initial call from Bevacqua so she could finish her round.
Solomon returns to work with the NBC Olympics team, where she previously held a succession of positions beginning in 1990 as a researcher. Over 10 Olympic telecasts, she also served as a feature producer and associate director, and was named coordinating producer of NBC’s Olympic cable coverage beginning with the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Between 2006 and 2012, Solomon was coordinating producer of NBC Olympics, and produced figure skating at the 2010 Vancouver Games, as well as the Opening Ceremony and primetime show for the 2012 London Games.