NBC passes $1 bil in Olympic ads

Net to broadcast 2,900 hours of live coverage

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BEIJING -- NBC has sold more than $1 billion in advertising for the Beijing Olympics, the Games' largest foreign rights-holder said on the eve of the opening ceremony.

Sales were boosted by ratings for the network's primetime coverage of Olympics trials by U.S. athletes including swimmers Michael Phelps and Dara Torres, sprinter Tyson Gay and gymnast Shawn Johnson, NBC said.

NBC's substantial sales delegation to the Games expects "to write more business as the Games begin and great stories continue to evolve," said Seth Winter, senior vp sales and marketing for NBC Sports & Olympics.

The network's coverage begins with Friday's opening ceremonies and continues through Aug. 24, with an unprecedented 3,600 hours to be broadcast across television, the Web and mobile platforms.

This is the first all high-definition Olympics and the first Summer Games with live primetime coverage since Atlanta in 1996.

NBC will broadcast America's favorite Olympic sports -- which it indicated are swimming, gymnastics and beach volleyball -- live in primetime and offer live coverage on all 15 days of competition.

"I really feel like we're sitting on top of something special," NBC Olympics executive producer David Neal said. "To me, it's heightened by the fact that I've seen three dress rehearsals. America will be left speechless. It's really remarkable."