NBC’s first Olympic broadcast at 1964 Tokyo Games marks 55th anniversary

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Thursday marked the 55th anniversary of NBC’s debut Olympic broadcast — the first live telecast of an Opening Ceremony. Fittingly, it was of the Tokyo Games.

The Olympics return to Tokyo in July.

Coverage was far different back in 1964. NBC obtained the TV rights for $1.5 million (first time an Olympics surpassed the $1 million barrier) and aired 14 total hours of coverage over 15 days.

In 2014, the IOC awarded NBC Universal the Olympic broadcast rights from 2021 through 2032 — valued at $7.65 billion, plus a $100 million signing bonus for the promotion of Olympism and Olympic values between 2015 and 2020.

In Rio, NBC Universal aired a record 6,755 Olympic programming hours, including live streaming of every Olympic sport on NBCOlympics.com.

The 1964 Tokyo Games were highlighted by Czechoslovakian gymnast Vera Caslavska, who earned three gold medals, including the first of back-to-back all-around titles.

Swimmer Don Schollander won four gold medals, most for an American in any sport since Jesse Owens in Berlin in 1936.

Ethiopian Abebe Bikila became the first repeat Olympic marathon champion, four years after running barefoot through the streets of Rome.

Future Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl champion wide receiver Bob Hayes equaled the 100m world record of 10.06 seconds. And Billy Mills pulled off one of the most memorable upsets in Olympic history, becoming the first (and so far only) American to win the 10,000m.

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