SBJ/May 28 - June 3, 2007/This Weeks News

Execs say Stanley Cup advertising goals met

Despite what was widely seen as a sluggish ad sales market going into the Stanley Cup playoffs, NBC, Versus and NHL executives say they have met their financial goals for Stanley Cup Finals telecasts.

NBC has sold out its inventory and said demand has been strong throughout the playoffs. Both the network and the league, which share sales responsibilities, are poised to make a profit again this year, according to NBC.

NBC said that advertising demand has been
strong throughout the NHL playoffs.

For Versus, sales results for its broadcasts are on par with last year.

A half dozen ad buyers said hockey and the Stanley Cup Finals had not been a focus for them this year, and though network sales are strong, they described cable sales as lackluster.

“Unless you’re a hockey sponsor, the demand there isn’t great,” said one buyer who requested anonymity. “Hockey is still trying to get recognition as a national sport. It’s still local in nature.”

Larry Novenstern of Optimedia said, “Usually, there are last-minute deals to be had. It’s unfortunate because the Stanley Cup and hockey bring in a good, younger male demographic.”

The first NBC televised game is expected to be broadcast on Saturday. That broadcast and those that follow will feature heavy support from several NHL sponsors.

Anheuser-Busch will sponsor the “Inside the Glass” segments, Verizon Wireless has the “Sounds of the Game,” MasterCard the period statistics and Gillette the power plays. Intermission reports are backed by Heineken and Dodge.

U.S. Marines, which is not an NHL partner, is sponsoring the broadcasts’ “Team Leaders” segments.

There will not be any big ad sales surprises on Versus’ Finals telecasts, executives say. As they have done through the playoffs, Dodge will sponsor the first period intermission and Verizon the second. Auto insurance company Esurance sponsors “Hockey Central” after the game.

“We are very pleased,” said Steve Margosian, Versus’ vice president of marketing solutions. “We made our financial objective.”

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