Costas has served as primetime host for every Olympics on NBC since 1992. That includes the 2012 London Games, which is the most-watched television event in U.S. history, reaching 217 million viewers. The Rio assignment is Costas’ seventh as primetime host of a Summer Games – also the most in U.S. TV history. This actually will be Costas’ 12th Olympics for NBC, having served as NBC’s late-night host at the 1988 Seoul Games.
Costas made history of another kind when he hosted in Socchi games in February 2014. Meredith Vieira became the first woman to anchor NBC’s primetime Olympic coverage, after Costas got sidelined by an infection in his eyes. That was historic too, ending Costas’ streak of 157 consecutive appearances as NBC’s Olympics anchor in primetime. It was the first time since 1988 Costas did not host the coverage all the way through. He’d soldiered on with the infection in one eye — then two — the first few days of that NBC coverage, before calling in Matt Lauer from the bullpen. Lauer told viewers Costas looked like the loser in a prize fight. Lauer pulled double duty three days, co-anchoring Today show for morning Games coverage and then filling in for Costas in primetime and late night, before NBC finally handed it off to Vieira when it became clear Costas could not yet come back to work.
“For a quarter-century, Bob has been NBC’s pilot of primetime at the Olympics, and over that span, the scope of our coverage has constantly evolved, with Rio set to become the most live event in U.S. television history,” NBC Olympics EP Jim Bell said in today’s announcement. “Given his vast experience and uncanny expertise, simply put there is no one better than Bob,” for the assignment, he said.
Costas, in today’s announcement, called Olympics, “a three-week mini-series which, if done well, should bring viewers not only memorable athletic performances, but a sense of the host city and country, and an appreciation of what is a truly global gathering.” He has won 26 Emmy Awards, more than any other sports broadcaster, and is the only broadcaster in television history to have won Emmys for sports, news, and entertainment.