By DAVID BAUDER, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — NBC said Wednesday that it has topped the $1 billion mark in advertising sales for the Olympic Games beginning this week in London.
That tops the $850 million in ad sales for the Beijing games in 2008 and is the biggest advertising haul ever for an Olympics, NBC said. Advertisers have plenty of options, since NBC Universal is showing some 5,535 hours of the Olympics on NBC, Telemundo, cable affiliates like MSNBC, CNBC and the NBC Sports Group, and online.
The $60 million in digital ad sales triples what the network earned four years ago, said Seth Winter, executive vice president of sales for the NBC Sports Group.
The cost of advertising time per minute on NBC's prime-time broadcast has increased by less than 10 percent, Winter said. That telecast is where NBC gets its most money and biggest audience.
As television audiences continue to fragment, the ability to reach a broad, family audience through special events like the Olympics or Academy Awards gets more valuable.
"Everyone who is on the air or wants to be on the air in the third quarter has to be on the Olympics," Winter said. "If they want to reach the audience they want to reach, we're in the position of having the most enviable platform in all of media."
Two substantial new advertisers are Chobani yogurt and Fruit of the Loom underwear. The electronics sector is also strong, NBC said.
There's no indication about what crossing the $1 billion threshold means to NBC Universal's bottom line. The company, citing the high costs of doing business in London, has said it expects to lose money presenting the coverage.
NBC is still holding back time for advertisers to join once the London games start, Winter said.
In an election year, NBC said President Barack Obama's campaign has spent $6.5 million to buy national ads during the Olympics. Mitt Romney hasn't bought any Olympics ad time, Winter said.
An organization called UnPac.org is starting an online petition to urge NBC not to accept any political advertising from special-interest PACs during the Olympics. Winter said some NBC affiliates have sold some advertising time to PACs but NBC hasn't on a national level to this point.
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