SBD/January 13, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

NBC Stops Taking Ad Sales For Sochi In Order To Preserve Units For Make-Goods

NBC "has stopped taking ad sales orders" for the Sochi Olympics, as the net "is reserving an undetermined number of ad units for advertisers in case it does not hit ratings guarantees," according to John Ourand in this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Olympic networks "typically hold ad spots back in this manner, but in recent years NBC has not had to halt ad sales so far before the Games start." NBC Sports Group Chair Mark Lazarus last week said that the net "has brought in" more than $800M in ad sales revenue around the Olympics. Lazarus: "And we're going north." NBC "expects to make a profit from the Sochi Games," for which it spent $775M in rights fees. It is "not known how much inventory NBC is holding back." The net’s ratings guarantee also "has not been made public." But sources said that the guaranteed number generally is around 10% "below what they had been getting in past Olympics" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/13 issue).

SUPER-SIZED CHALLENGE
: USA TODAY's Bruce Horovitz notes the Sochi Games and Fox' Super Bowl XLVIII telecast "are competing for the same prize that the two big-time events jostle for every four years: advertisers." However, this is "not a winner-take-all contest," as both events "are prospering in a world of sports-hungry viewers." Just "four days of separation would appear to be working against the two mega-events," but this notion is "wrong." NBC Sports VP/Communications Chris McCloskey said, "We're exceptionally well sold and have set a Winter Games record." Kantar Media Chief Research Officer Jon Swallen said, "There's a large enough pool of advertisers and ad budgets for both events to draw from." Still, a few advertisers every four years "tend to step away from the Super Bowl -- often, just for that year -- and sign on to the Olympics." This year "is no exception," as companies including Century 21, Subway and Best Buy are doing so (USA TODAY, 1/13).
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