New York -- Coming off a successful -- and profitable --
Summer Olympics in London, NBC sports officials are expecting more of the same
a year from now when the 2014 Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia, get underway.
"We believe we'll be profitable in Sochi," said NBC
Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus during a news conference on Tuesday.
NBC lost about $223 million on the 2010 Vancouver Winter
Games, but turned
an $88 million profit for last summer's games in London. The 2014 Games will
be the first under the
new rights deal that was signed back in mid-2011, which gave NBC the U.S.
rights for the next four Olympics for $4.38 billion. The Sochi Games alone cost
NBC $775 million.
"Ad sales are pacing extremely well," Lazarus
said. "This will be a very good moment for our company."
NBC will begin its coverage of the Games a day early in
primetime on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, with the Opening Ceremony the next night.
The International Olympic Committee has added 12 events for the 2014 Games. The
Games officially run Feb. 7-23, 2014.
Lazarus said they will not include that first Thursday in
their overall ratings because they are not sure how many will tune in, but
sounded optimistic on using that night to promote the Opening Ceremony
coverage. "We think it's a great way to jumpstart the Opening
NBC will employ a similar strategy from the London Games,
meaning every event from Sochi will be carried live on some platform (most via
live-streaming), with tape-delayed events saved for the primetime coverage.
Sochi is nine hours ahead of the East Coast.
Despite the controversy of NBC's decision to tape-delay many
events so they could air them in primetime, Lazarus defended the decision,
arguing again that offering the events earlier online actually drove
viewership. "Thirty million people a night voted to watch us when they
already knew what was going on," he said. "I think that
[live-streaming events] satisfied a lot of the immediacy needs."
Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics, and president of
operations and strategy, NBC Sports Group, said the online and mobile offerings
was one of the key reasons that younger viewers surged "higher than any
other demographic" during the London Games.
NBCU will again celebrate one year out from the Games with a
major promotional plan, which includes a primetime roadblock at 8 p.m. on
Wednesday across 19 networks. The networks airing the promo Wednesday at 8 p.m.
as part of the roadblock or at another time within the 8-9 p.m. hour are: NBC,
Telemundo, Bravo, Chiller, Cloo, CNBC, E!, G4, Golf Channel, MSNBC, mun2, NBC
Sports Network, Oxygen, Sprout, Style, Syfy, The Weather Channel, Universal HD
on Wednesday morning will be Olympic themed and will introduce freestyle
skiing's slopestyle event, one of the new Olympic events. In addition, numerous NBCU programs across television, radio and the web will preview the Sochi Olympics with editorial content.
"Our primetime roadblock is emblematic of our ability
to utilize the scale of NBCU to market the Olympic Games to great effect,"
said John Miller, CMO, NBC Sports Group. "Our one-year-out campaign
begins what will be the largest marketing effort ever by NBCU for an Olympic
Miller added that as part of the year-long marketing effort, NBC will run 2,500 GRPs worth of promos in primetime, enough to reach each person in the U.S. eight times. He said momentum from the London Games is strong as the intent to view among a survey group is "hanging in the mid-70s," a ratio that is vastly higher than any other NBC show, including top-rated Sunday Night Football.