NBC gets additional $15 mil in ad sales

Olympics advertising now over $1 bil mark

NEW YORK -- With the possibility of makegoods now off the table, NBC Sports & Olympics continues to write more business in the last week of the Beijing Games.

NBC has written $15 million more in ad business in the past several days, adding to the $10 million it did in the first triumphant days of the Summer Olympics. NBC has taken in a record more than $1 billion in revenue for the network and cable ad sales.

"We've written a lot more business than we thought we would be" during the Games, Seth Winter, president of ad sales for NBC Olympics, told The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday afternoon from Beijing.

The recently sold inventory comes from the fact that NBC reserves for possible ratings shortfalls are no longer needed. NBC had guaranteed advertisers about a 14 household rating for the Games and it'll deliver that without trouble, thanks to the strong first week with Michael Phelps' eight-gold-medal winning performance. For 11 days, NBC is up 12% in viewership and 4% in adults 18-49 compared with the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

Winter said there's only a little bit of primetime inventory left, and a little more of the other dayparts and cable networks. He expects that more will be sold between now and Saturday's closing ceremonies.

What's more, he said, advertisers and ad buyers are already looking ahead to 2010 and 2012 Games.

"All of them want to start talking about (ad inventory for) Vancouver and London when we get back" from Beijing, Winter said. He said initial talks were under way but declined to discuss how much of 2010 and 2012 ad sales inventory is locked up already. There are long-term deals that encompass many Olympics.

Meanwhile, said Winter and NBC Uni research chief Alan Wurtzel, advertisers are happy with what they've gotten as return on investment for their spots during the 2008 Games. Data from Nielsen IAG Research show that ads that run during the Olympics have a 130% increase in brand recall than other primetime and 33% higher than spots that run during the Academy Awards.

Increases are also being shown in message recall and likability, Nielsen IAG research showed.

Among traditional ads, brand recall was up 14%, message recall 20% and likeability up 13% compared other broadcast and cable primetime ads. Olympic-themed ads did even better against primetime ads, with increases in brand recall of 29% and 40% for message recall.

Wurtzel told The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday that the data shows that ads during the Olympics bring "supercharged boost."

"These are the metrics that advertisers and their agencies are interested in," he said.