July 15, 2008 / 4:52 AM / 11 years ago

NBC ad sales may set Olympic record

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - With the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics less than a month away, NBC Universal is close to earning a gold medal of its own.

A worker prepares Olympic decorations at the entrance of a park in Beijing July 12, 2008. REUTERS/Reinhard Krause

It’s likely that the media giant will rake in north of $1 billion in ad revenue — taking into account not only NBC and its cable siblings but also the online ad inventory that the company is aggressively selling.

NBC Universal took in ad revenue of about $1 billion for the 2004 Athens Olympics, generating a profit of $60 million to $70 million after shelling out $793 million for the broadcast rights. It paid $894 million for the rights to cover the Beijing games.

About 85% of the TV inventory has been sold. NBC is garnering an average of $750,000 per 30-second spot for its coverage, which will include not only primetime from August 8-24 but also midday and late-night. At the same time, other NBC Universal networks including Telemundo, USA Network, CNBC, MSNBC and Oxygen also will be carrying Olympic sports. About $850 million will go to NBC Universal and $150 million to local NBC affiliates.

Strong advertiser categories include auto, telecom, soft drinks and movies, as well as retailers pushing back-to-school sales.

Hot dayparts include swimming and gymnastics on NBC, particularly with the anticipation that Michael Phelps might break Mark Spitz’s record for most gold medals in a single Olympics. Oxygen’s gymnastics coverage is gaining interest from advertisers looking for female demos, and CNBC’s coverage of boxing is getting dollars from advertisers looking for heavily male-skewing demos.

NBC’s business picked up in recent weeks after the network aired the Olympics trials, with some coverage in primetime.

“Sports, particularly a powerful brand such as the Olympics, continues to buck the trend,” Seth Winter, senior vp ad sales at NBC Sports & Olympics, said Monday. “Clients and buyers recognize that big sporting events generate numbers you just don’t see anyplace else, especially in the increasingly fragmented media world we live in today.”

That’s all good news for NBC Universal and its parent company, General Electric. GE said in its quarterly earnings call Friday that it sold $700 million in products because of the Olympics. A GE exec told Wall Street on Friday that the company feels good about the Olympics performance.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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