When the American television network NBC clinched the broadcast rights for the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow in front of competitors ABC and CBS, it believed it had made a good deal. With the USD 97 million it had paid in fees, it expected to be able to rake in an estimated USD 170 million in the sale of commercial airtime. Even after accounting for additional costs of coverage, it expected to make a handsome profit and, perhaps more important, boost its image as a serious contender in the American television market. However, when the Red Army invaded Afghanistan just six months before the start of the Games, the United States drummed up support for a Western boycott of the Olympic Games as a demonstrative punitive measure. As a result, 62 nations decided to withdraw their teams from the competition, including the United States and Canada. With one fell swoop, NBC’s investment around the Olympic coverage was rendered void and advertisers were not slow to revoke contracts for airtime purchases. For NBC, geopolitics had turned the Olympic dream into a commercial nightmare. Mega-events such as the Olympic Games refer to the genre of “cultural and sporting events that achieve sufficient size and scope to affect whole economies and to receive sustained global media attention” (Gold and Gold, 2011, p. 1).
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