Winter Olympic Ad Sales Get Lukewarm Response


One TV executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that NBC has become increasingly active in the past few weeks. “Speaking to general market conditions, auto’s coming back, thanks to GM and Chrysler. Telco money’s there because AT&T and Verizon are duking it out,” the exec said. “I can’t say whether this is going to hold up, but right now, if you’re a major advertiser looking for big-time exposure in Q1, the Olympics is a hell of a buy.”

NBC’s flexibility on pricing is a necessary byproduct of lesser commitments from the likes of Anheuser-Busch, which has cut its Olympics spend in half. Given the increased emphasis on baby faces like snowboarder Shaun White, speed skater Shani Davis and skiier Lindsey Vonn, the network is in a position to land more youth-targeted sponsors. (Throughout NBC’s coverage of last summer’s Beijing Olympics, the biggest ratings gains were among adults 18-24 and men 18-34.)

One national TV buyer suggested that NBC is likely to offload a good amount of its remaining inventory on makegoods for underdeliveries in its prime-time lineup. “They can devote 20 percent to makegood weight, and that clears the deck in terms of the liabilities they’re carrying around with them,” the buyer said.

While ratings guarantees for the Winter Games are hashed out on a client-by-client basis, most observers believe NBC shouldn’t have to worry about not hitting their deliveries. “They’re almost certain to do better than the games in Torino, which were impacted by the time difference and the lack of a big storyline,” said Horizon research chief Brad Adgate. “Bode Miller didn’t win a medal, the hockey team lost almost all of their games, Michelle Kwan had to drop out...all the big names didn’t show up.”