NBC says it’s reached $1.25 billion mark it hit with Rio Olympics advertising sales

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NBC Sports says it expects advertising revenue from the Tokyo Olympics to top 2016 ad sales for the Rio de Janeiro games.

While NBC won’t say how much inventory remains or the exact dollar value of what it has sold, it has said it has passed the $1.25 billion in sold in 2016, the last summer Olympics the network aired.

NBC reportedly paid $1.23 billion for the U.S. broadcast rights for the 2016 games and $1.45 billion for the 2020 Olympics, which were delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic to the summer of 2021 (though they will still be referred to as the “2020” games in marketing and record keeping).

NBC did reveal that about $500 million of advertising sold so far represents “new business.” Technology, pharmaceutical and social media companies are said to be some of the top verticals buying up ad time.

The network had already sold billions in advertising as of the early months of 2020, but ended up having to pause those commitments when the IOC postponed the event. Advertisers were reportedly given the option to “hold” their spots and could reconfirm that they would buy ad time during the summer of 2021 broadcasts.

Like in past, NBC has held back some ad inventory to be allocated once the games are underway. If ratings end up peaking, NBC can likely sell off these spots at premium rates.

If ratings don’t look good and the network has to “make good” in order to deliver viewership it has promised advertisers, these spots can help alleviate those in a practice known as audience deficiency units.

This is a common practice in TV advertising sales, particularly with high profile events when networks “guarantee” a certain number of viewers. If those numbers aren’t met, contracts typically call for advertisers to get additional spots during other programming at no or reduced cost.

The Rio games were the second highest rated games, topped only by London in 2012.

Of course, there are a lot of wildcards in play that could affect ratings for this year’s coverage, including the fact that NBC has sold select streaming rights across streaming platforms. Viewership data for these platforms will be compiled by a different company, which could cause some challenges and delays in reporting back viewership.