Bob Costas Ends 24-Year Run as NBC’s Prime-Time Olympics Host

bcWhen NBC televises next year’s Winter Olympics from Pyeongchang, South Korea, a familiar face will be gone from the prime-time anchor seat: Bob Costas, who held the job for 24 years, will be replaced by Mike Tirico, who joined the network last May.

“It just felt to me like the right time and it’s felt like the right time for a while,” Mr. Costas said in an interview this week, in advance of NBC’s scheduled announcement on “Today” on Thursday.

“This was a good time to step away, while I could still do it,” he said.

Mr. Tirico worked at ESPN for 25 years, and his versatility as a host and play-by-play announcer made him a leading contender to succeed Mr. Costas as soon as NBC hired him. He was a daytime host during the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro last year. He has also called National Football League and Notre Dame games and has hosted the British Open golf championship.

“I knew Bob wasn’t going to stay in the job for 20 more years,” Mr. Tirico said in an interview, “but I didn’t know if they were going to choose me or when it would happen.”

 Mr. Costas’s long run as the prime-time host calls to mind that of Jim McKay, who covered or hosted 10 Olympics for ABC Sports. That Mr. Costas held the job for so long reflected NBC’s commitment to making the Olympics the centerpiece of its sports portfolio and to holding onto highly rated programming that appealed to a broad demographic, especially women. The network has spent billions of dollars to carry every Summer Games since 1988 and every Winter Games since 2002.

NBCUniversal, the network’s parent company, has the rights to carry every Olympics until 2032.

Mr. Costas was NBC’s late-night host during the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea, when Bryant Gumbel was the prime-time host. Mr. Costas took over the prime-time assignment in 1992, when the Summer Olympics were in Barcelona, Spain. The only gaps in his prime-time hosting résumé came when CBS televised the 1992, 1994 and 1998 Winter Games.

“The 11 prime-time Olympics may never be touched,” said Mr. Tirico, 50, who declined to discuss the streak he might have if he kept the prime-time position through 2032.

“Hopefully they invite me back for another,” he said. “I’m just focused on South Korea.”

Mr. Costas, 64, decided before the Rio Games that it would be his final Olympics as the prime-time host.

“Rio had some capstone moments,” he said. “Michael Phelps was finishing off. So was Usain Bolt. And Simone Biles was emerging. It had moments that felt like closure to me, and this felt like a good time to step aside.”

He said that in his 24 years, the job of hosting the Olympics had changed. The increased number of events and the need to keep viewers engaged with the action had reduced his time for conducting interviews and delivering essays.


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