Winter Olympic Ad Sales Get Lukewarm Response


With fewer than 90 days to go before the Olympic torch arrives at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, NBC Universal still has a solid chunk of inventory on its hands. And while the advertising marketplace has begun showing signs of life in the past few weeks, the Peacock faces an uphill climb if it’s to hit its volume target.

Per media agency estimates, NBCU must move between 30 percent and 35 percent of its 2010 Winter Games avails if it’s to be wrapped by the time the first athlete points his skis down the jump at Whistler Olympic Park. That NBC is pacing behind precedent isn’t exactly an unexpected development, given the impact the recession has had on the television business. In late November 2006, the network was about 85 percent sold out for the Torino Games, well on its way to setting a record Winter Olympics haul of $930 million; of course, that same year saw the U.S. economy grow 2.7 percent.

Four years ago, sponsors of NBC’s Winter Olympics coverage paid between $500,000 and $700,000 for a 30-second spot, and an ad in the 2010 Games could fetch as much as $800,000. That said, media buyers suggest that NBC is much more flexible on pricing this time around.

“NBC will be on a price rollercoaster until they firm things up,” said Larry Novenstern, evp and director of electronic media for Optimedia. “There may be some good opportunities between now and then, and at this point, they’re willing to listen to anything. At the same time, there’s a point beyond which they’re going to say, ‘We’re not bending.’” NBC declined comment.  

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