NBC: Olympic Ads Nearly Sold Out


NBC has added four new Olympic sponsors and says it has sold close to 90% of its advertising inventory for the upcoming 2006 Torino Winter Games.

New advertisers include AT&T, Exxon Mobil, DHL and Lenovo. NBC’s sales target is $900 million, and the network expects to reach most of that total prior to the Feb. 10 Opening Ceremonies. A typical 30-second spot in prime time on NBC’s Olympic broadcasts costs about $700,000.

NBC Sports & Olympics Senior VP of Sales and Marketing Peter Lazarus says the network will announce additional deals in coming weeks, with new advertisers expected to include movie studios. "Some of the money arrived late, but we are optimistic about where we will finish," he says. "Some people have seen a perceived weakness, but this will be the most successful Olympics [from a sales standpoint] for NBC."

The network expects to hold back about $20 million worth of ad inventory, which is used for post-Opening Ceremonies sales and to have a reserve for make-goods if necessary. That figure is similar to what was held back—and subsequently sold—by NBC during the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City.

A first quarter in an Olympic year is extremely competitive in the ad game: Besides the Olympics, buyers’ event choices include the Super Bowl, Daytona 500, Academy Awards and NCAA basketball tournament.


, a Super Bowl buyer for the past 10 years and a 20-year Olympic sponsor, is back with the Olympics this year but undecided on the Super Bowl. The rate for a 30-second spot on ABC’s Super Bowl broadcast this year is reportedly nearly $2.5 million.

"There are so many choices in the month of February," says Visa spokesperson Michael Rolnick, "that companies need to step back and really take a sophisticated look at how they want to do their media planning."