The Olympics Surpass NBC’s Wildest Advertising Dreams

According to Seth Winter, Executive VP of Sales at the NBC Sports Group, the television network has reached $1 billion in advertising sales for the Olympic Games in London, which kick off tonight in a sure to be unforgettable and adorably kitsch British opening ceremony that is rumored to involve both Harry Potter AND Mary Poppins.

Because one of them alone is just not enough.

“It is an important number and a symbolic number for us,” said Winter to Bill Carter, who writes a blog for the New York Times. “It is unprecedented for any event to hit that kind of number.”

For the Beijing Games four years ago, NBC sold about $850 million in advertising, but this year, with the opportunity for digital advertising having grown exponentially, the advertising dollars just kept rolling in – to the tune of a 200% increase from Beijing.

The $1 billion figure includes sales across all the networks and entities that will carry portions of NBC’s coverage, which includes NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo, Telemundo, the NBC Sports Network,, apps for mobile and tablet devices and, for the first time, a 3-D channel.

The digital portion of the network’s advertising share is what really blew people away. “We’ve exceeded any forecast,” said Winter.

But is the money enough to actually allow the firm to profit after an enormous production costs bill for the Games? Still unsure of that one.

The sales desk though is still wide open and apparently ads from upcoming US presidential candidates are still rolling in. Winter said the opening ceremonies tonight would reveal who was the bigger spender.

The big news for me here is, of course, not how immense the $1 billion number is, but the immense growth of the digital ad sales for these Games.

If this isn’t proof that multi-channel is the future, is “it,” shall we say, I don’t know what is.