NBC Sports sets new Olympics ad sales record for Tokyo 2020

NBC Sports said it has sold $1.25bn in US ad sales for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, setting a new record for any broadcaster for the Games.

The total, up from $1bn in December, represents commitments for nearly 90 per cent of the network’s available Olympics ad inventory. The latest figure surpasses the $1.2bn in sales for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The record also arrives with nearly five months to go before the scheduled start of the 2020 Games.

And though the setting a new Olympics sales record has been strongly anticipated for many months, the continued robust totals still show once again how the Olympics remains one of the last true unifiers in all of sports and entertainment, particularly during the current era of marked media disruption.

“The momentum for Tokyo 2020 remains strong, but inventory is growing scarce as advertisers continue to value the massive reach of the Games and are eager to align their brands with the biggest media event of the year,” said Dan Lovinger, NBC Sports Group executive vice president of ad sales.

Lovinger also said “the vast majority” of the tentpole sponsorships for the Tokyo Games have been sold, and that the inventory for the Paralympics is entirely sold out.

Meanwhile, Brian Roberts, chairman and chief executive of NBC Sports-parent company Comcast, sought to assure attendees of the Morgan Stanley Investor Conference on March 3 in San Francisco, California, that the company is well prepared if the Olympics are impacted by the ongoing global coronavirus outbreak. Roberts said the conference that the company has taken out insurance to protect itself financially, as it typically does for major events.

“What I know is, it’s full steam ahead. We’re getting ready. We’re excited…Should there be some disruption, as others have said, we anticipate these kinds of things in big contract language,” Roberts said. “We try to anticipate for big events what might happen so that we’re protect there, and we also have insurance for any expenses we make. So there should be no losses should there not be an Olympics. There wouldn’t be a profit this year. But again, we’re optimistic the Olympics are going to happen.”

Roberts’ optimism followed a statement from the IOC earlier on March 3 that it is “fully committed” to stage the Tokyo Games as planned and still begin as scheduled on July 24, despite the continued virus outbreak. Roberts also praised the network’s deepened tie with the US Olympic and Paralympics Committee.

“It is now a relationship that we can have with our marketing partners because we partnered with the United States Olympic Committee, because of the LA Olympics [in 2028] to bundle the rings for the US plus NBC marketing and advertising partnerships,” Roberts said. “So we’re in a pretty special place.”