Two years ago, the Winter Games in Vancouver were just beginning. When they ended, NBC Universal reported a loss of $223 million.
Now, with the Summer Games in London five months away, NBC is hoping to avoid a big loss on its $1.18 billion rights fee, the most paid for the Olympics by a United States network.
So far, sales appear to be off to a strong start. Seth Winter, the senior vice president of the NBC Sports Group, said last week that national advertising sales for the London Games were just above $900 million.
“We’re in extraordinarily good shape,” he said. “This is my third Olympics overseeing sales for NBC Sports, and this is the first Olympic Games that we’ve had a healthy economy.”
Sales have already exceeded the $850 million for the 2008 Beijing Summer Games, for which NBC paid $893 million to the International Olympic Committee to buy the broadcast rights.
Winter said that the automotive category was healthy and that two carmakers, General Motors and BMW, would be the only ones advertising on NBC’s Olympic broadcasts.