NBCU Says Profits Are Golden at Olympics

NBCUniversal called its coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games as success, delivering a profit despite an 8% dip in viewership.

”We are successful against every important measurement,” Mark Lazarus, chairman, NBC Broadcasting and Sports, said in comments released by the network before the broadcast of the closing ceremonies from PyeongChang, South Korea.

NBCU has been using Total Audience Delivery—which includes cable, digital and streaming-- to measure the viewership of the Olympics. By that measure, NBC dominated its competition averaging about 20.6 million viewers, compared to the 22.4 million averaged by the Sochi games through last Thursday.

NBC primetime alone averaged 18.3 million viewers.

“In today’s media environment, to average approximately 20 million viewers over 18 nights – which is essentially the number of hours for a full season of three primetime shows – is a tremendous accomplishment,” he said. “When compared to the competition, we were more dominant than any Winter Games ever.”

Lazarus said that PyeongChang will be the fourth consecutive Olympics that NBCU makes a profit on.

"We finished PyeongChang with more than $920 million in national ad sales, a Winter Games record,” he said. “We added more than $20 million once the Games began due to viewership exceeding our advertiser guarantees.”

NBCU has the rights to the Olympics through 2032, and Lazarus said he was bullish on them as a business.

The Olympics continue to demonstrate the ability to assemble massive and diverse audiences on platforms ranging from television to mobile to Snapchat. The Games are uniquely suited to thrive in today’s expanding media landscape,” he said.

“The Games are now much more than a broadcast TV show – they’re on cable TV, everyone’s favorite devices, 4K, Snapchat, even in VR goggles. And the narrative of Olympic domination across these multiple platforms is impossible to dispute<” added Jim Bell, president, production and programming, NBC Olympics.

On Snapchat, Olympic content reached more than 40 million users, 90% of whom were age 35 and younger.

“Our Snapchat partnership was a resounding success,” said Gary Zenkel, president NBC Olympics.

Jon Lafayette

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.