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NBC Sees Olympic Ad Revenue Topping $1B

NBC Sports Group expects advertising sales for the 2016 Rio summer Olympic Games to top $1 billion.

Seth Winter, executive VP for ad sales at the NBC Sports Group, said sales are on pace with the 2012 London summer Olympics, when sales topped $1 billion.

“Our expectations are that we’ll exceed London,” he said.

According to Kantar Media, the 2014 Sochi winter games generated $946 million in ad revenue. The 2012 London summer games brought in $1.3 billion. The 2010 winter games from Vancouver accounted for $809 million in ad revenue and the 2008 summer games in Beijing drew $821 million.

NBC and its parent Comcast have invested billions in rights for the Olympic Games going out to 2032. Last year, Comcast agreed to pay an average of $1.275 billion for each of the games from 2022 through 2032.

After a few money-losing years, recent Olympics have been profitable.

Sports are one of the few categories of programming that are holding up in an increasingly on demand world and Olympic games have continued to be a huge television draw. Ratings of Olympic highlights on broadcast in primetime have thrived as fans can view events live on cable and online. With the Rio Olympics in a time zone where most events can be viewed live by North American audiences, the ratings should be strong and even in a tepid ad environment, marketer demand seems to be strong.

“Advertisers want a little more flexibility, so they’re waiting a little longer to make these commitments,” Winter said. “But we’re well on pace and… what we’ve seen so far indicates that people are very, very excited about the Rio Games.”

Winter said some categories are showing extraordinary strength. “Automotive, packaged goods, insurance, motion pictures, QSR, they're all very, very, very strong for us,” he said, adding that “we've gotten some very good commitments from a lot of our rights holders like BMW, United, Procter & Gamble, Kellogg's, Nike, Coca-Cola and so on.”

Winter said that "sales across our digital platforms are going very, very well." Digital sales were $60 million for the London Games. For 2016, Winter says NBC projects that digital ad capacity will be up as much as 75% compared to London.

The return of golf as an Olympic sport will give NBC a boost as well, considering NBCU owns the Golf Channel. “There will be certain people who want to target golf. You can imagine a lot of the manufacturers will want to target it. There will be others who want to target golf, and we'll work with them on that,” Winter said.