NBC Universal is projecting more than $1 billion in ad sales for its Olympic games taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, next year.
Seth Winter, exec VP-sales and sales marketing, NBC Sports Group and NBC Universal News Group, expects ad sales for the 2016 Olympic Games to exceed that of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
While Mr. Winter declined to reveal how much inventory remains in the games, he said that selling is pacing similarly to London. "It's going as expected," he said.
NBCU has even more time to sell in the 2016 Games with the reintroduction of golf into the Summer Olympics. NBCU-owned Golf Channel will be airing the golf matches, "so we have a lot more sports to bring to the marketplace," Mr. Winter said.
Automobiles, consumer packaged goods, insurance, quick-service restaurants and movie studios have been strong categories. And NBCU has received "some very good commitments" from rights holders like BMW, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Kellogg's and Nike, among others.
Mr. Winter noted that NBCU is seeing "extraordinary" strength in auto. This is a vastly different trend than Mr. Winter saw leading up to Super Bowl XLIX, which aired on NBC.
At the time, Mr. Winter said it was a tougher year than others and that advertisers were being much more cautious about buying time in the game.
While he continues to acknowledge that marketers want more flexibility and are waiting longer to make large commitments, Mr. Winter said the Olympics is a very different property than the Super Bowl.
"I think the Super Bowl is such a unique property in that it takes so much more investment in creative," he said. "It's a hit or miss, and the stakes are exceedingly high in the Super Bowl. Not that they're not in the Olympics, but I just don't see the level of anxiety or the notion of win or lose in the Olympics. I think it's a steady climb to a very impactful campaign that a lot of advertisers set out in the Olympics, whereas in the Super Bowl…we know that some advertisers failed miserably, some succeeded."
Mr. Winter also noted that the number of agencies in review has made the process "interesting for all of us."
Digital sales are also going well, Mr. Winter said, noting that NBCU does not have enough capacity to meet demand. He estimates an increase of as much as 75% in digital viewership from London Olympics.
The 2016 Olympics being held in Rio, which is just one hour ahead of the East Coast, means more of the major competitions will be aired live in or around prime time, a potential positive for ratings.
The 2012 Summer Olympics averaged about 31 million viewers a night, when it showed highlights of events that had already taken place earlier in the day.