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Old February 11th, 2010, 10:24 PM
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Logos of Olympic Broadcasters - Part 4: 1980s
Continuing our look at Olympic Broadcaster Logos (Introduction, 1960s, 1970s), we jump into the busy 1980s, complete with network changes and boycotts. Fun fun!

During this era, there were 6 Olympics... 3 Winter, 3 Summer, with ABC broadcasting 4 of those events, NBC showing 1, and NBC, well, not showing 1.

So, let's start...



1980 Winter Olympics
Lake Placid, New York, United States - More Info


Picking up where we left off in the 1970s was ABC landing the rights to these Winter Games held on American soil. They paid $15,500,000 to broadcast 53.25 hours of programming.

This programming included the now-famous "Miracle on Ice" hockey game between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. -- and dramatically recreated in the 2004 film Miracle. It was thought that the Soviets might not attend these games, given the disapproval by the U.S. of their invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979. President Jimmy Carter was already calling for a boycott of the Summer Olympics (to be held in Moscow), but the U.S.S.R. attended nevertheless.

Incidentally, only two cities bid for these Winter Games: Lake Placid and Vancouver... but the Canadian city pulled out before the final vote, giving the bid automatically to the United States. It's here we start to note the lack of interest in hosting an Olympics after the financial disaster that was Montreal '76.


ABC 1980 Winter Olympics Logo

The "ABC Olympic Badge" makes its appearance once again as the official broadcaster logo used by the network, though only the overall shape is what continues. The logo primarily uses the official Olympic emblem for Lake Placid as the basis, with a red "ABC Circle" logo sitting in the upper right corner of the design, all situated on a white background. Once again the ribbon at the bottom features a black background with the phrase "Lake Placid 1980" denoting the location.

The pin design illustrated above lacks the colored stripes featured in the official Olympic emblem, along with the colored Olympic rings, however I'm not sure if that is just a reflection of the medium being used to show the logo or if that was the official representation of ABC's identity.



1980 Summer Olympics
Moscow, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics - More Info


Oh, now things get interesting!

Here we have NBC making a comeback with the U.S. television rights, spending $87,000,000 to do so -- tripling ABC's rights fee from the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. The plan was to show 150 hours of coverage.

But that never happened.

The United States led a 65 country boycott of the Summer Games to protest the Soviet war in Afghanistan. This resulted in just 80 countries competing (by comparison, 92 countries competed in Montreal '76).

The boycott was declared in April, with the Games themselves starting in mid-July. According to a NBC media guide, "the boycott dealt a major blow to NBC broadcast plans, but an insurance policy (the first time a sporting event had been insured) paid off. 90% of NBC's rights fee was insured and the bulk of the $34 million that was lost on the Summer Games was mostly due to "out-of-pocket" expenditures."


NBC 1980 Summer Olympics Logo

NBC's official broadcaster logo was based on the "Stylized 'N'" design that was introduced at the network in 1976, and used through 1979, replacing the popular "NBC Peacock". The red/blue "N" featured a superimposed set of Olympic rings on the lower portion.


T-shirt design of NBC 1980 Summer Olympics Logo

You'll note that typical of NBC's few Olympic logos up to this point, they didn't follow ABC's lead of integrating the official host city emblem into their design, preferring instead to showcase their own identity.

NBC did send a small crew to Moscow to shoot footage for their "SportsWorld" program, but I doubt that this official NBC Olympic logo was used for that coverage. Incidentally, Bryant Gumbel was slated to be the network's host for these Games... he'd finally get his chance in 1988.



1984 Winter Olympics
Sarajevo, Yugoslavia - More Info


ABC returned 4 years later with the rights for the '84 Winter Games, for which they paid $91,500,000 to broadcast 63 hours of programming.

With this deal, the network introduced a new style for their official broadcaster logo that they would adapt not only for Sarajevo, but also for use later that year with their coverage of the LA Summer Games.


ABC 1984 Winter Olympics Logo

I've nicknamed this look the "ABC Olympic Shield", which has notable contrast with their heavily used "Badge" design in previous Games. Anchoring the "Shield" design was the introduction of the "ABC Rings" look, integrating the lowercase "a", "b", and "c" letters with the Olympic Rings design.


Introduction of the 1984 "ABC Rings" design

The '84 "Shield" design featured the "ABC Rings" sitting on a dark blue background, nestled above a white background where the official host city emblem for Sarajevo was presented. This was boarded by an orange and blue line that overlapped at the bottom tip.

Believe it or not, I spent many hours attempting to draw and recreate both this logo and the Summer Olympics logo used by ABC later in the year. It was a clean look that clearly branded the network, looked official by use of the host city emblem, but also was able to match the color schemes associated with the specific event. Plus, how could you not love the clever use of the "ABC Rings" design -- an approach that could not be duplicated by either NBC or CBS due to their initials and typestyle.



1984 Summer Olympics
Los Angeles, California, United States - More Info


The 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles are often considered the Games that "saved" the Olympic movement. To show you how far things had fallen, Los Angeles was the ONLY city to bid for the Olympics, and therefore won by default.

A couple of elements came into play to make LA a success. The first was the heavy use of existing infrastructure, thus saving money on construction (in contrast to the heavy building shown by Montreal in 1976). A big push towards corporate sponsorships also began with the '84 Games -- setting a standard that the IOC continues to use today. The Soviets boycotted the 1984 Summer Olympics along with 13 other countries, mainly in retaliation for the 1980 Moscow boycott. This led to anticipated U.S. dominance and interest in the LA Olympics, also helping the bottom line.

The other element largely contributing to the financial success of the Los Angeles Games was the hefty price tag charged to ABC for the broadcast rights. TV rights for a Games held on American soil are automatically going to be higher, given the ability to show more events live without worry of many time zones. Plus, the Summer Olympics are considered far more valuable than the Winter Games.

As such, ABC paid an astronomical $225,000,000 rights fee, which allowed them to show 180 hours of coverage. To put this price tag into context, adjusted for inflation, it was roughly 2 times the amount NBC paid for the 1980 Moscow Games and 4 times that of the '76 Montreal event. Good ole American consumerism at work!


ABC 1984 Summer Olympics Logo

As for ABC's Olympic Broadcaster Logo, it closely modeled that which they used earlier in the year for the '84 Winter Games. Once again the "Shield" design was implemented, anchored on top by the "ABC Rings" design on a blue background. The large white space in the middle showcased the official Los Angeles host city emblem. The borders on this logo were red and blue, matching the colors used in the host city emblem and the U.S. flag color scheme. This logo was also very hard to draw... I mean, that star logo alone is a nightmare!



1988 Winter Olympics
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - More Info


The Winter Olympics in Calgary would be ABC's swan song, as it's the last Olympics they have broadcast, ending their years of dominance in the 70s and 80s. ABC was purchased by Capital Cities in 1985, and company management wasn't in favor of bidding on future Games. (Incidentally, Disney now owns ESPN and ABC, and has expressed interest in bidding for the 2014 Winter (Sochi, Russia) and 2016 Summer (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) Games).

For their final run, ABC paid $309,000,000 for the broadcast rights (notice how the numbers stayed high after the LA Games?), producing 94.5 hours of coverage.

Personally, these are my favorite Olympics to remember, mainly because I was really "into" the Olympics at the time, as well as being at the height of my interest in Olympic lapel pin collecting. Plus, who doesn't like snow and Canada? These Games also featured such fan favorites as Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards in ski jumping and the Jamaica bobsled team (of which the 1993 film Cool Runnings is based). This infusion of "underdog" amateur athletes produced an element of fun and excitement. Unfortunately, the IOC has since modified their rules to prevent such participation from happening again.


ABC 1988 Winter Olympics Logo

When it came to identity, the ABC brand for Calgary has a lot of history working for it, as its a combination of the 1970's "Badge" and 1980's "Shield" designs. The shape of the logo was the same as the old "Badge" designs, complete with the rounded edges and ribbon at the bottom denoting "Calgary 1988".

The "ABC Rings" look returned from the "Shield" design to anchor the top of the logo, while the official Calgary host city emblem was used on a white background in the middle. A matching red border was used to emphasize a "Shield" outline on top of the "Badge" shape. When you look at all the ABC Olympic logos used over the years, the 1988 Calgary design really does impress because of the tributes it pays to the network's long history of broadcasting the Games. It's my favorite!



1988 Summer Olympics
Seoul, South Korea - More Info


Changing networks in 1988, we shift to NBC for the Summer Olympics in Seoul. The network paid $300,000,000 -- which you'll note is actually LESS than what ABC paid for Winter Olympics shown that same year. Calgary was in a favorable time zone for American broadcast, while South Korea... not so much. The network, anchored by Bryant Gumbel (who finally got his shot after losing out on the boycotted 1980 Games), produced 176.5 hours of coverage.


NBC 1988 Summer Olympics Logo

The return to NBC brought us a less-than-creative Olympic Broadcaster Logo, to be honest. Completely ignore the host city official emblem, take the 1986 version of the "NBC Peacock", slap some golden Olympic rings underneath... done. As I mentioned in our coverage of the 1972 Sapporo Olympics (also by NBC), the shape of the logo used for Seoul is exactly the same size as that year's implementation.


Comparison of NBC's 1972 vs. 1988 logos

The broadcasts during the Seoul Games primarily featured just the "NBC Peacock Rings" logo, though media guides and other implementations showcased a different version of the logo denoted with "Seoul 1988" at the top. This most likely was used to set apart the event from the upcoming Barcelona '92 Games, which NBC also broadcast.


Standard NBC Peacock Rings Logo introduced in 1988

Get used to the "NBC Peacock Rings" look, because you'll be seeing it quite a bit as we jump ahead to the 1990s!



And with the 1980s coming to a close, the 6 Olympic Games featured have passed the U.S. broadcasting torch from ABC to NBC. However, CBS gets into the fray as well, which we will explore in our next installment... the 1990s.

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