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NBC Olympic Sales Pacing Ahead of Sochi

Related: NBC to Broadcast Olympics Live Across All Time Zones

NBC Sports said ad sales for the 2018 Winter Games from PyeongChang, South Korea, are pacing ahead of the Sochi, Russia, games held four years ago, and the network expects to exceed Sochi's total when it closes its books.

NBC will also be selling the Super Bowl, which will be played days before the Olympics start and the World Cup, which airs in Spanish on NBC-owned Telemundo shortly afterward.

NBC will be selling all three huge sports events together in some cases, said Dan Lovinger, executive VP, advertising sales NBC Sports Group.

Related: Upfronts 2017: Discovery Takes TLC OTT, Adds Olympic Snapchat Channel

"If you're planning to advertise in 2018, you simply have to advertising with NBC," Lovinger said.

At an upfront event for advertisers held Wednesday, NBC announced a deal with Snapchat that NBC estimates will help push its ad revenue from social above the eight-figure range.

On Tuesday, NBC Sports said NBC would air all of its Olympic coverage live all over the country, which will sync viewing on broadcast, cable and digital.

"We're evolving the way we're presenting and selling the games," said Lovinger.

Instead of using household ratings—as is traditional for sports—to guarantee audiences for advertisers in NBC primetime, all of NBCU's broadcast, cable and digital outlets will be measured using People 2+. Guarantees will also be based on that People 2+ metric.

"We had to create a common metric," Lovinger said, in order to sell and guarantee across all platforms, which will all this year feature live programming.

The common metric will also allow NBC to pivot if viewers move from broadcast to digital—or vice versa. During the Rio games, digital viewing was blamed for broadcast ratings falling short of the record viewing in London four years earlier.

While traditional ratings were down, Lovinger noted that NBC dominated all media consumption during those three weeks.

He added that in addition to gathering large audiences, the Olympics are attractive to advertisers because research found that message memorability was 40% higher for ads that run inside the Games, compared to ads that run in other programming, he said.

For the Rio Games, NBC also had a deal with Snapchat, but that deal was signed shortly before the opening ceremonies, giving NBC little time to sell to advertisers or package it with other media.

"Getting out of the box 11 months earlier gives our sales people a longer runway," said Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics.

As part of the new agreement with Snapchat, in addition to selling ad time on Snapchat stories and on the Olympic Discover channel, it will sell lenses and geo filters. It will also sell ads on user stories from users identified as Olympic fans.

There were 34 million Olympic fans on Snapchat during the Rio games, Zenkel said.

Revenue from Snapchat ads is split between NBC and Snapchat

NBC made a $250 million profit on the Rio Olympics last year.

NBC's PyeongChang primetime coverage begins Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. The opening ceremony takes place on Friday, Feb. 9, 2018.

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.