Media buyers estimate NBC is way ahead of schedule, racking up more than $300 million toward its goal of $600 million in '96 Olympic revenues.
"We are way ahead of Barcelona," in 1992, said an NBC executive. "We're pacing eight to 10 months ahead of where we were at the same point for Barcelona."
Separately, Advertising Age has learned Coca-Cola plans to leverage its more than $100 million in Olympic media and sponsorship outlays with a variety of big events, including the creation of a Coca-Cola Olympic City in Atlanta.
Coca-Cola is the single largest sponsor of NBC's Olympics broadcast, committing a record $62 million for beverage category exclusivity.
Other category exclusives include: General Motors Corp.'s $50 million; Anheuser-Busch's nearly $50 million; McDonald's Corp.'s $30 million; Visa International's $27 million; and Reebok International's $25 million. MCI Communications Corp. and American Izusu Motors have made non-exclusive buys for about $20 million each.
NBC now must convince non-Olympic sponsors of the expensive media buys' value. A typical prime-time 30-second Olympics spot will cost about $400,000.
But with a network TV recovery fully under way, advertising demand surging overall, and an otherwise undependable TV sports marketplace, NBC shouldn't have much trouble bringing others on board for what promises to be one of the highest rated Summer Olympics ever.
The first to be hosted in the U.S. since the 1984 Los Angeles Games, the Atlanta Olympics also will have a live, East Coast prime-time window.
"They shouldn't have any problem selling up to the first 80%," said an agency media executive representing a number of Olympics-related clients. "But the first 80% is always the easy part. The last 20% will be the toughest part. And that $120 million is where NBC's profit will be."
One big attraction NBC has to offer 1996 Olympics sponsors is greater exclusivity. Unlike past Olympics, the 1996 TV contract requires NBC to offer not just network TV buys, but time on the network's owned-and-operated stations. In years past, category rivals have used spot TV buys on major-market stations to run ambush spots.
Meanwhile Coca-Cola's Olympic City, a multimedia Olympics theme park that will feature attractions enabling visitors to participate vicariously in the Games.
"We are considering it. But we have made no commitments," said a Coca-Cola spokesman, noting the project is still in the highly developmental stage and hasn't been approved by senior management.
However, several promotional partners already have been approached about potential tie-ins. They include NBC, which has a commitment to conduct a "Medals & Millions"-scale promotion for Coca-Cola as part of its network TV buy.
The soft-drink giant also would like to tie the Olympic City into its own coverage of the 1996 Games via Coca-Cola Big TV, an event programming service that would run on one or more of Turner Broadcasting System's cable networks.
Coca-Cola hasn't decided yet whether to go ahead with the 1996 Olympic Big TV endeavor, but it has produced and even sold time to other advertisers in two Big TV productions to date, tied to the 1994 Super Bowl and World Cup soccer tournament.
Executives familiar with the theme park plan said Coca-Cola hopes to make it not just a promotional event, but a genuine business, charging an admission price of $25 per person.
With projections of 10,000 to 15,000 attendees daily, executives believe the Olympic City could make as much as $375,000 daily or about $6.4 million during the 17 days of the Summer Games.