SBJ/February 4 - 10, 2002/Games Open In SLC

Owned/operated NBC affiliates pass $121M sales goal

A worker secures a
sign announcing
Olympics sponsors
in front of the
Utah Olympic Oval
in Kearns.

Corporate enthusiasm for a U.S.-based Winter Games has pushed NBC's 13 owned-and-operated stations past their Olympics advertising sales goal of $121 million.

Gene Pizzolato, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the group, said he is confident sales will eventually total at least $125 million.

"Between now and the end of the Games, we will continue to close business," he said.

The stations are offering local ad time on NBC's broadcasts of the 2002 Winter Olympics, set to run from Friday through Feb. 24 in Salt Lake City. At least 15 national advertisers have local Olympics ad deals with some or all of the NBC-owned stations.

For NBC's coverage of the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, the 13 stations sold nearly $160 million worth of ad time. There is much less inventory to sell for Salt Lake City, however, because NBC is providing fewer original hours of coverage. The reason for the cutback is that the Winter Olympics have far fewer events than the Summer Games.

Pizzolato said he's satisfied with the Winter Games sales total, particularly against the backdrop of a sluggish economy.

"Now that we've made our [sales] number, the mission is how much can we grow that number," he said.

One marketplace factor working in the stations' favor is that the Olympics are being held in the United States.

National advertisers buying time on the NBC-owned stations also are looking to target key regional markets. The 13 stations are in New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; Philadelphia; Washington; Dallas/Fort Worth; Miami; San Diego; Hartford, Conn.; Raleigh/Durham; Columbus; Birmingham, Ala.; and Providence, R.I.

Pizzolato's sales team, which has offices in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta and Dallas, sells to national and regional advertisers seeking local markets, while the stations themselves sell primarily to local advertisers.

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