NBC $100M Short of Goal

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NBC is still $100 million shy of its $1 billion ad-sales goal for the Athens Olympic Games, according to several media buyers and ad-sales executives.

Buyers say that, as one puts it, NBC sales people are “encouraging us” to look at Olympics as part of upfront deals. “That says to me they haven’t reached their goal and they’re worried about it.”

But network insiders say the sales goal will be reached even if it takes all summer. And it probably will. The fact is the Olympics are so costly nowadays (figure close to $950 million for the rights and production costs for Athens) and the sales goals are so huge as a result that the selling goes down to the wire.

Two years ago NBC sold ads worth $900 million and didn’t sell out until a week before the games began, a network source says. The Atlanta Games in 1996 sold its final piece of business ($1 million worth) on the day of the opening ceremonies.

Buyers concede that NBC’s ability to create ad packages that combine upfront and Olympics should get the network to its goal. But it’s no guarantee and without that upfront leverage, “they wouldn’t make it,” says one buyer.

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