By Barry Janoff
January 24, 2014: Despite concerns over security, politics, human-rights issues and logistics, NBC Sports Group's coverage of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi is expected to set records among Winter Games in ad spend, broadcast coverage and social media support.
NBC Universal said it would air 539 hours of TV coverage during the upcoming Games, a 21% increase from the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. It also would top the Winter Games record 444 hours of coverage over NBC's network of stations during the 2006 event in Turin, according to a new study from marketing and research firm Kantar Media, New York.
Kantar's report also showed that the 2006 Games in Turin set a record for U.S. TV ad spend during the Winter Olympics, reaching $851 million. The previous Winter Games record was the $789 million spent during coverage in the U.S. of the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.
The 2010 Winter Games saw a dip to $809 million, which Kantar attributed to the struggling economy.
The upcoming Games, which will run Feb. 7-23, could top 5,500 minutes of broadcast air time, with 30-second spots going for between $90,000-$100,000.
By comparison, 30-second spots for Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2 have hit $4 million, with some surpassing that figure, according to broadcast network Fox.
Marketers spent some $2.4 billion on commercial time over the past three Winter Olympics combined, according to Kantar. The past five Super Bowls have totaled $1.2 billion in broadcast ad time.
The Top Five TV ad categories during the 2010 Winter Games were automotive ($130.8 million), financial services ($68.4 Million), telecom ($58 million), retail (%54.1 million) and restaurants ($48.5 million).
The $360 million total spend among those categories accounted for 45% of the total TV ad revenue, per Kantar.
The Top Ten firms per ad spend during the 2010 Games were AT&T ($50.3 million), General Electric (parent company of broadcaster NBC, $45.9 million), Procter & Gamble ($44.4 million), General Motors ($41.5 million), Visa ($37.3 million), McDonald's ($31.7 million), Coca-Cola ($28.7 million), Johnson & Johnson (($20.9 million), Comcast ($17.1 million) and Toyota ($16.1 million).
GE, Visa, McDonald's and Coke are global marketing partners with the International Olympic Committee.
Off the main grid, NBC expects to have 1,000 hours of live streaming video, nearly triple the 400 hours during the 2010 Winter Games, according to Kantar Media. Although a new category record for the Winter Olympics, it falls short of the 2,200 hours of live streaming video during the 2008 Summer Games and the record 3,500 hours during the London Olympics in 2012.
NBC expects spend and viewership to be strong despite such concerns as security and human-rights issues relating to the LGBT community.
"A lot of the lead-up has been about issues other than the Olympic stories. [But NBC's] mission remains unchanged . . . [telling] the stories of the athletes."
"Security has been at the forefront and on the top of mind for anybody who’s been involved in an Olympics for a long time," Gary Zenkel, president-NBC Olympics," said during a media conference call on Thursday (Jan. 23). "We experienced Salt Lake six months after the attacks of 9/11 and obviously, the security there was significant and involved a tremendous amount of planning on our part. Of course in Salt Lake and in Athens , as you recall, there was a tremendous amount of security conversation in here leading into those Games and a tremendous amount of work and cooperation and it’s never ceased. It’s always a top priority of ours."
According to Zenkel, "We have never seen the type of security that we are now seeing in Russia at any prior Olympic Games in terms of the credentialing, surveillance and amount of resources that have been committed to this area."
"Obviously, a lot of the lead-up here has been about issues other than the great Olympic stories," said Jim Bell, NBC Olympics executive producer, during the conference call. "[But NBC's] mission remains unchanged. You’re coming down to the stories of the athletes . . . who, as we document, train all these years for this one moment that can come down to a tenth or a hundredth of a second, trying to tell their story, trying to talk about their sports."
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