NBC tops digital ad sales for Olympics by 33 percent over London Games

Left to right: NBC Sports' Rio mobile app home page, user interface, and athlete profile. Far right: Snapchat feature content ahead of the 2016 opening ceremony. (Courtesy of NBC Sports and Snapchat)

Digital ad sales for NBC Sports’ authenticated online stream of the Olympic Games in Rio are 33 percent higher than sales during the 2012 Games in London. That puts the network well on track to reach the 50 percent mark forecast by its advertising sales chief.

Hitting its ad sales mark is critically important for NBC: the network paid a total of $12.13 billion -- $4.38 billion in 2011, and $7.75 billion in 2014 -- to the International Olympic Committee for exclusive U.S. television rights to the Games through 2032.

So far, NBC has sold $1.2 billion in national advertising inventory -- broadcast and digital included -- for the Rio Games, or 20 percent higher than it reached at the opening of the London Games. The network ultimately sold $1.3 billion in ads back in 2012, once local affiliate and owned-and-operated station revenue was included.

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"For the first time ever we got to our budgeted number weeks in advance," EVP of ad sales for NBC Sports Group Seth Winter told AdAge. The network passed $1 billion in sales back in March.

Marketers can reportedly still book business with NBC Sports, though all of its premium inventory is gone, AdAge noted. Ad slots may still be available on the upper-channel cable networks that are broadcasting many of the events. But online, there is likely an even bigger range of opportunities.

NBC Sports has committed to streaming 4,500 hours of coverage from Rio, as we noted in a recent special report, over a number of channels including both its cable networks and its authenticated app. The app will also offer a huge amount of on-demand video such as athlete profiles, opening up more advertising space; and will feature “auto-synchronized data overlays” for desktop computers, tablets and smartphones. Additionally, Snapchat is NBC’s social media partner for the Games and offers an “Olympic Discover” channel co-produced with Buzzfeed among other highlights.

Interestingly, Winter didn’t solely credit audience numbers from London as a driver for inventory sales during this year’s Games. Bad news from Rio -- reported safety issues, the rise of the Zika virus, and infrastructure problems like shoddy construction of the Olympic Village and facilities like the sailing dock -- meant good news for NBC advertising. Winter said the reports “raised awareness” around the Games and will bring more viewers to various screens, whether it’s traditional TV or mobile devices.

Total ad revenue figures for NBC’s Olympics coverage won’t be in until after the Games conclude, and currently don’t include local affiliate or Snapchat revenues.

For more:
- see this AdAge article

Special report: Akamai, Microsoft lead Olympics streaming support for NBC Sports

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