After our Introduction
and look at the 60s
, we continue our look at Olympic Broadcaster Logos in the decade of the 1970s. Now this is where things start to get good with unique branding for the networks, namely ABC, which had the rights to 3 out of the 4 Olympics during this era.
The clash of world events with the Munich massacre
also heavily displayed ABC's 1972 design for more than just the sports world to view... it obtained high visibility on newscasts as events unfolded.
1972 Winter Olympics
- More Info
As the 1970s kicked off, NBC paid $6,400,000 for the rights to broadcast their very first Winter Olympics. They wouldn't do this again until 2002's Salt Lake Games, so it was a big deal. Their coverage featured 37 hours of programming.
I'm not quite sure why NBC obtained the rights instead of ABC, which had them for both the Winter and Summer events at the prior 1968 Olympics
-- if you recall, NBC's last Olympics was the 1964 Summer Games in Tokyo
. Fittingly, this being NBC's 2nd Olympics, it once again was in Japan. How funny!
One possible explanation of the shift in networks was the high rights fee charged by Sapporo, designed to help defray the steep costs that Japan had spent to prepare for the event. It might have been a simple situation of ABC not wanting to pay that much money for what was still considered a "2nd tier" product vs. the higher-profile Summer Olympics.
NBC 1972 Winter Olympics Logo
NBC's 1972 Winter Olympics logo differed greatly from their 1964 Tokyo logo
. Again, since I secured the NBC Sapporo logo from a media guide, unfortunately it's represented here solely in black & white.
Gone is the NBC Peacock. Instead, we're greeted by a generic snowflake icon, which may or may not be a weak attempt to parallel the snowflake on the official Sapporo emblem. No attempt to match font or style in the official logo is made, and the "NBC Sports" brand continues to be presented. We do see the return of the Olympic rings superimposed over colored stripes.
"Peacock Olympics" logo introduced in 1988
Now, I want you to take a look at the overall shape of the logo, which is boxed on top but features a "cutout" look following the pattern of the rings on the bottom. You'll see this exact same shape reappear in 1988 when NBC lands the rights to the Summer Olympics in Seoul. The "Peacock Olympics" logo moves into heavy usage from that point onward, but the overall shape has its origins right here in the NBC 1972 Winter Olympics design. Neat, huh?
1972 Summer Olympics
Munich, West Germany
- More Info
Now, as far as I can tell, 1972 brought us the introduction of what I like to call the "ABC Olympic Badge" design, a format that the network continued to use up through 1980, so it was very common. It's here that our inclusion of both the official host city's emblem and the broadcaster logos together make sense, because you'll see that one inspired the other via ABC's implementation.
Starting with the '72 Summer Games, ABC would continue to show all the Olympics to U.S. audiences through 1988's Winter Games in Calgary, so yes, they were the dominant Olympic broadcaster at this point in time. In fact, the events of Munich would put them on the map, unfortunately via bad circumstances. They paid $7,500,000 for the broadcast rights, which in turn resulted in 62.75 hours of programming.
A large portion of that time was spent covering the story of the terrorists attacking the Olympic Village and killing 11 Israeli athletes. If you've seen the 2005 Steven Spielberg film Munich
, then you know what this was all about. As an aside, might I recommend the 1999 documentary One Day in September
which covers in great detail what happened during that period of time... and showcases quite a bit of ABC's coverage, including their broadcaster logo for the Games.
Jim McKay wearing jacket that showcases "ABC Olympic Badge" design
Of interest to this series is the fact that a guy named Chris Schenkel was actually ABC's host for these Olympics, but when the attacks happened Roone Arledge
assigned Jim McKay
to be the network's "face" based on his previous news reporting experience. He was helped by Peter Jennings, who at the time was a news correspondent. From this point, McKay would be the anchor for any ABC Olympic coverage in the years ahead.
ABC 1972 Summer Olympics Logo
As I noted in the Introduction
, I have a history of Olympic pin collecting. Therefore, it's somewhat ironic that the best archive we have for the unique Olympic Broadcaster Logos comes from the pins themselves, as these were often shared among the network employees and with sponsors as gifts.
Above you can see a poor-quality photo of the "ABC Olympic Badge" design for the Munich Games, using a template that wouldn't change much in future events. At the top in the triangle area was a small version of the official Munich host city emblem, featuring for the first time (I think) the integration of the official logo with the broadcaster logo. Below this is the "ABC Circle" logo, created in 1962.
1963 Color ABC Circle
Much like NBC indicated color programming via the "NBC Peacock"
, ABC colored the letters in the circle logo starting in 1963... the "a" was orange, "b" was blue, and "c" was green. Finally, the Olympic rings sat below the ABC Circle. Seemingly hanging from the bottom of the "Badge" design was a ribbon effect, denoting the name and year of the event, "Munich 1972".
I have no idea why the color red was chosen as the primary background color of the badge, other to think that it provided good contrast against the yellow blazers worn by ABC Sports anchors.
1976 Winter Olympics
- More Info
ABC returned in 1976 as the broadcaster for the Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, paying $10,000,000 for the rights. This included 43.5 hours of programming.
These Games were a little odd, because they originally were to be hosted by Denver, which was awarded the Olympics in 1970. However, in 1972, voters in Colorado voted against funding the Games due to rising costs and environmental impact. Whoops! (As a person living in a city that recently bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics -- Chicago -- I'm on board with the nice folks of Denver not wanting to get involved in this mess.)
With this series of events, the IOC had to scramble to find another host city, initially offering the Games to Whistler, British Columbia, Canada -- who also said "no" (however, they made up for it by being part of the 2010 Winter Games with Vancouver). Salt Lake City offered to host, but the IOC shunned the U.S. entirely -- probably due to the Denver situation -- and awarded the Games to Innsbruck, Austria, in 1973... just 3 years before the event was supposed to take place.
Comparison of Innsbruck 1964 vs. 1976 logos
Luckily, Innsbruck had just hosted the Winter Olympics 9 years earlier in 1964
. This probably worked well because Innsbruck had much of the infrastructure and elements in place already for a Winter Games. This "workaround" seems to have also prompted a reuse of the Innsbruck 1964 emblem, which was slightly modified for use during the 1976 Games. Talk about repurposing design!
ABC 1976 Winter Olympics Logo
This leads us to the Olympic Broadcaster Logo for the '76 Winter Games. ABC once again returned to the "Badge" design, this time with a prominently white background. The upper triangle section now hosted the "ABC Circle" (still sporting the colored letters), allowing more space below for the Innsbruck '76 logo (which in the case of this poor-quality lapel pin photo, featured black on the inside, though I'm not sure if that was how it was presented during broadcast). Again, hanging from the bottom was a ribbon denoting "Innsbruck 1976".
1976 Summer Olympics
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
- More Info
Later that year, ABC televised the Summer Olympics from Montreal, Canada. It cost them $25,000,000 to do so, allowing them to producing 76.5 hours of coverage.
Olympic historians will often note that the Montreal Games were the ones that almost killed the Olympic movement due to their cost and resulting debt (the Olympic Stadium was finally paid off some 30 years later in 2006). After 1976, cities thought twice about bidding for the Games.
ABC 1976 Summer Olympics Logo
However, ABC remained consistent in their branding, utilizing the identical "Badge" design they had used for the Winter Games earlier in the year. Once again the background was white, the top triangle was red (with color "ABC Circle"), and the bottom ribbon with the name "Montreal 1976" featured a black background. Since the official Montreal '76 logo contained Olympic rings as a primary element of design, only the logo was needed to anchor the "ABC Olympic Badge" -- no additional rings were added.
We wouldn't see this type of parallel Winter/Summer Olympics design for broadcaster logos again until 1984... but that's for a future installment!
With those 6 Olympic Games, we have finished up the 1970s designs of Olympic Broadcaster Logos. Things get more interesting in the 1980s with boycotts and such, so stay tuned!