NBCUniversal expects to bring in record amounts of advertising revenue from its broadcasts of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, according to the company’s head of sports-related ad sales.
“We expect to exceed the $1 billion we generated in London,” said Seth Winter, executive vice president of advertising sale for NBC Sports Group, referring to the company’s telecast of the 2012 Summer Olympics from the United Kingdom. “We are exceeding the pace for London now. We are on a record pace.” Winter made his remarks to reporters during a conference call Thursday to discuss the ads sales effort behind the Olympics.
The economics of the Olympics are well scrutinized at NBCU and its parent company, Comcast. The Philadelphia cable-and-content giant agreed in 2011 to pay $4.4 billion for U.S. broadcast rights to the Olympics through 2020, and another $7.75 billion for the rights to the Games through 2032.
Demand from a range of advertisers – including automotive marketers, movie studios, fast-food outlets and consumer-technology makers – is robust, Winter said. He attributed the healthy slate to the fact that the coming Olympics would have more “live” hours of events than previous telecasts, a feat aided by the fact that Rio is in a time zone similar to that of the United States, just one hour ahead of the nation’s East Coast. In past broadcasts from places like Beijing, NBC has been forced to telecast important events at odd hours, and then repackage those moments for primetime, when advertisers pay the most money.
The prediction does not include advertising earmarked for local stations that NBCUniversal owns. said Winter, just for sales of national broadcast and cable inventory and digital space.
The sales process had been slower in its earlier parts, Winter acknowledged. In recent weeks, however, he said, the tide turned. “Some of the more significant sponsorship opportunities went to order, and, having come to fruition, catapulted the pace well ahead of London,” he noted.
Winter projected high ratings for each night of the Olympics broadcast, which takes place over 17 days. He suggested each night could have the viewership of a post-season NFL Wild Card game. He also said the abundance of live TV was a lure for marketers, who are placing more emphasis on programming that draws mass viewership that is unable to skip past ads or avoid them.
Demand for digital inventory was also strong, he said. NBCU is requiring a certain level of ad spending on TV in order to gain specific amounts of digital ads, he said, a sign that the company is protecting its TV broadcasts, which command the highest prices.
He declined to offer many specifics about programming, but indicated the 2016 Olympics would feature many hours of rugby and golf, and that NBCU’s Golf Channel would be the home for much of the golf coverage. NBC primetime is likely to feature gymnastics, track and field, swimming and diving, along with the in-depth feature reporting on athletes and their background stories that NBCU usually works into its Olympics coverage.