NBC Sets Olympic Ad Sales Record Despite Coronavirus Uncertainty

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games - February 15, 2020 - Getty-H 2020

NBC Sports said Tuesday it had passed $1.25 billion in Olympic ad sales and sold 90 percent of its inventory, with nearly five months still to go before the opening ceremonies.

NBC Sports says that it has now sold more advertising inventory for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics than it did for the entirety of the 2016 Rio Olympics, setting a new Olympic ad sales record with five months to go before the scheduled start of the Games.

Dan Lovinger, executive vp ad sales for NBC Sports Group, said Tuesday in a statement that the company has "sold nearly 90 percent of our Tokyo Olympic inventory and the vast majority of our tentpole sponsorships have been sold."

Added Lovinger, "We recently surpassed $1.25 billion in national advertising for Tokyo, which exceeds our sales total for Rio 2016 and is a new Olympic record. In addition, our coverage for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics is sold out. The momentum for Tokyo 2020 remains strong, but inventory is growing scarce as advertisers continue to value the massive reach of the Games and are eager to align their brands with the biggest media event of the year."

The advertising news comes amid some uncertainty surrounding the games. While International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound made comments last month suggesting that the Games could be canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the IOC on Tuesday released a new statement saying that its “executive board today expressed its full commitment to the success of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, taking place from 24 July to 9 August 2020.”

Also on Tuesday, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts told an investor conference that the Games are “full steam ahead. We’re getting ready. We’re excited. We think Japan will hopefully follow what we saw in China.”

“Should there be some disruption, as others have said, we anticipate these kinds of things in big contract language,” Roberts added. “We try to anticipate for big events what might happen so that we’re protected there, and we also have insurance for any expenses we make. So there should be no losses should there not be an Olympics. There wouldn’t be a profit this year. But again, we’re optimistic the Olympics are going to happen.”