The Olympics

NBC On Track to Shatter Olympics Ad Sales Record

With Four Months Before Rio Kicks Off, the Peacock Books $1 Billion

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NBC on Tuesday announced that it is on track to shatter the all-time Olympic ad sales record, as dollar volume for the Summer Games in Rio is pacing well ahead of those for the 2012 London Games.

With four months to go before the torch is lit at MaracanĂ£ Stadium, NBC said it has passed the $1 billion mark in national ad sales, a tally that includes broadcast, cable and digital inventory. Four years ago, the Peacock reached that milestone on July 25 -- just two days before the London Games kicked off.

When local revenue from affiliates and NBC-owned-and-operated stations were added to the 2012 total, the overall haul for the London summer extravaganza came in at $1.3 billion. That was a break-even number for NBC, which originally had anticipated a net loss of $200 million.

Seth Winter, exec-VP, advertising sales, NBC Sports Group said that while some of the most sought-after inventory already has been snapped up by advertisers, "there is still some primetime availability on the [broadcast] network as well as cable inventory."

Mr. Winter went on to characterize the market as "very healthy and bullish," before adding that nothing on the summer schedule can lay a glove on the exposure and reach afforded by an Olympics buy. "The Olympics' ability to dominate primetime for 17 consecutive nights is unmatched," he said. "If brands want to reach viewers and their customers in the third quarter, they have to be in the Olympics."

Back in January, Mr. Winter predicted that NBC's digital sales in and around the Rio Games would surpass London's by as much as 50%.

As was the case four years ago, some of the categories that will have outsized representation during the Rio Games are automotive, insurance, movies, QSR, consumer technology, CPG and telecom. Official U.S. Olympic Committee sponsors include Nike, McDonald's, Procter & Gamble, Allstate, Visa and Anheuser-Busch.

Rio's relative proximity to the major U.S. markets has been a significant factor in accelerating interest in the Summer Games. As the city lies in a time zone just one hour ahead of the East Coast, a great deal of NBC's primetime coverage will air live, which in turn should help pump up the ratings. (London is five hours ahead of New York.)

The 2012 Summer Games drew 219.4 million total viewers, making it the most-watched event in U.S. television history. According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, the July 27 Opening Ceremony set the stage for the London Olympics with a stateside draw of 40.7 million viewers and a 12.2 rating.

NBC is paying roughly $1.28 billion for the rights to air the Rio Olympics, a figure that includes an estimated $100 million in production costs. This year's Games will be held a week later than the 2012 Olympics, running from August 5 to August 21.

The network in 2014 paid $7.65 billion to extend its existing Olympics contract through 2032, effectively shutting out its competitors from putting in bids for the Games.

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