NBC Universal Says Olympics Ad Sales Reach $1B

Interest From Tech Marketers Helps Snare $50M In Recent Weeks

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NBC Universal said its ad-dollar take for the Olympics has reached $1 billion, about $150 million more than its total take for the 2008 Beijing Games. The media company said it has secured about $50 million in advertising orders since stating a few weeks ago that its Olympics sales had reached around $950 million.

Beijing Olympics' opening ceremony
Beijing Olympics' opening ceremony Credit: AP
Seth Winter, exec-VP, sales and sales marketing for NBC Sports Group, said in an interview that the new interest in the Games was driven by activity from technology companies who have new products available in store and also had ads in the pipeline that had a creative on par with what would work in the Olympics.

The Olympics are a critical element of NBC Universal's strategy under owner Comcast, which wants to make the company more of a power in sports broadcasting. What's more, NBC Universal has already stated it intends to use the Olympics to promote the new fall lineup on its ratings -troubled NBC broadcast network.

The $1 billion figure includes ad sales involving every NBC Universal outlet airing the London Olympics: NBC, NBC Sports Network, MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo, Telemundo, NBCOlympics.com, the NBC Olympics Live Extra mobile and tablet app, two specialty channels, and the first-ever 3-D channel. NBC Universal is live-streaming every athletic competition -- more than 3,500 hours, including all 32 sports and all 302 medals -- on NBCOlympics.com and, for the first time, on the NBC Olympics Live Extra app for both mobile devices and tablets.

Mr. Winter acknowledged that having a greater array and variety of digital inventory helped NBC Universal reach its new ad-dollar levels. After all, mobile viewing of TV programs was just in its infancy in 2008. "The proliferation of devices that allow people to take in content across various mobile platforms has contributed to a 300% increase in our digital sales," he said.

Digital ad sales for London have exceeded $60 million, roughly three times more than the total for Beijing when NBCOlympics.com alone -- no accompanying mobile or tablet-based outlets -- live-streamed 2,200 hours and 25 sports. National television ad sales for London account for more than $950 million, up approximately $100 million from Beijing, NBC Universal said.

Mr. Winter said NBC is not sold out of inventory for the event, as it routinely holds ad time back to accommodate last-minute advertisers who may want to see the initial ratings generated by the first few days of Olympic competition. According to Nielsen, the 2008 Beijing Games' opening ceremony garnered 18.8% of U.S. TV households and 34.9 million viewers from the United States.

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