NBC Sports surpasses $1bn in US ad sales for Tokyo 2020

NBC Sports said the network has surpassed $1bn in US ad sales for next year’s Tokyo Olympics, and remains firmly on track to break its prior Olympics highwater mark of $1.2bn registered for the Rio 2016 Games.

With eight months yet to go before the Tokyo Games, NBC Sports said it is still ahead of its comparable Rio sales pace by a double-digit percentage, and that despite continued media disruption, the Olympics remains one of the last true unifiers among any type of televised content.

“The thing you start to see more often now and you can see it this year in the NFL ratings is there’s less and less big places where people gather,” said Mark Marshall, president of ad sales and partnerships for NBC Universal. “But sports is one of those places where people absolutely do gather…and really the pinnacle of that is the Olympics.”

NBCUniversal overall is planning more than 7,000 total hours of Olympics coverage from Tokyo across broadcast, cable, digital, and social platforms. The company’s forthcoming over-the-top digital video service Peacock, slated to debut next spring, is also likely be involved in some fashion. But network officials are reserving details on that front until an investor event next month.

Dan Lovinger, NBC Sports group executive vice president of ad sales, also said he expects the Tokyo Games to attract about 200m viewers across all platforms, representing by far the most-watched event of the year.

The Tokyo Games next summer will occur in between the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in advance of the 2020 US presidential election. Tokyo itself is 13 hours ahead of the US Eastern time zone, meaning many daytime events held there will air in prime time and late night windows back in America.

“There’s no red or blue in the Olympics,” Lovinger said, referring to the traditional colors for the two major US political parties. “There’s only red, white, and blue. Advertisers understand and appreciate that.”

Lovinger also said more than half of the booked advertisers for Tokyo are new to the Olympics, and that a wide ranger of companies have been represents, with key sectors including technology, pharmaceuticals, quick-service restaurants, retail, and financial services.

“The range for Olympic packages is as low as a million [dollars] and as high as a hundred million – and higher,” Lovinger said. “It really depends on who you are, what you’re trying to accomplish, and where you want to be in the Games.”

The bullish sales for next year’s Olympics continues a theme around strong ad sales for major tentpole events in the sports calendar. Fox Sports recently said it was sold out of all its advertising inventory for Super Bowl LIV in February.

Parent company Comcast and NBCUniversal are finishing a $4.4bn rights deal for Olympic broadcast rights in the US through 2020. A subsequent deal adds $7.75bn more for Olympic rights through 2022. Despite the hefty commitments, the Olympics have been profitable, including $250m for the Rio Games in 2016.