Entertainment

USA Track and Field agrees to 8-year deal with NBC

USA Track and Field has cut an eight-year deal for NBC to present the federation's key events on its main broadcast network, cable and digital platforms.

The deal is considered groundbreaking for Olympic sports, many of which pay the network's production costs in exchange for the air time.

The arrangement greatly reduces USATF's costs, which have reached nearly $2 million a year, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because financial details of the agreement were not public.

The agreement calls for at least 18 hours of live coverage of USATF events, including national championships and the Prefontaine Classic, with at least eight of those hours on NBC. These events are in addition to the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Trials and Olympics.

This is the latest in a series of moves that have dramatically increased NBC's presence in presenting Olympic sports. In 2010, the last year NBC presented Olympic sports only on weekends and on its main broadcast channel, it televised about 75 hours of Olympic sports, not counting the Games and trials. In 2016, NBC will exceed 1,300 hours on all its platforms.

NBC has the contract to televise the Olympic Games in the United States through 2032.

USATF CEO Max Siegel announced the NBC contract at his State of the Sport speech Thursday evening during a meeting in Orlando, Florida.

This year's biggest highlight: The 32 medals the U.S. team won at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. It was the most at a non-boycotted Olympics since 1932.

On its Twitter feed, USATF said the federation provided more than $14 million in support to more than 700 elite athletes. From that amount, 28 athletes earned more than $100,000 and 111 athletes earned more than $38,000.

Siegel also said the federation has brought in four new corporate partners in 2016 and 12 since 2013.

"I believe we've just scratched the surface as to where we can go," Siegel said during his presentation. "We have grown equity in the sports marketplace."

The new NBC contract also could free up money that could presumably trickle down to athletes.

A big portion of the CEO's deal-making acumen will likely be determined over the long term, as the market determines whether Siegel made a good bet in 2014 when he signed a sponsorship contract with Nike that lasts through 2040 and is believed to be worth between $450 million and $500 million. That's about four times annually what the USATF had been getting from Nike, though it's hard to determine how those sponsorship deals might look in two decades.