NBC’s Olympic Coverage Places It Top In Q1 Ad Revenue

The United States generally vies for the top of the medal chart in both the summer and winter games. While that wasn’t the case for decades, the fact remains that it is now the case, and that means high viewership, be it from curiosity or patriotism.

NBC and the Olympics

Consequently, NBC wants the Olympics. In order to have said Olympics through 2020, NBC paid $4.38 billion in 2011 in the largest television rights deal in Olympic history. That’s five Olympics both summer and winter with an average price of $870+ million. NBC has held the rights for the Summer Olympics since the 1988 in games in Seoul, (South) Korea and the Winter Olympics since 2002 in Albertville, France.

As a result, early advertising revenues in the first quarter of 2014 belong to NBC. Specifically, NBC received 17.4% of television advertising revenue for the quarter. This number comes from SQAD’s Media COSTrends newsletter, which aggregates the actual ad orders placed for dozens of the leading media firms for the most accurate ad industry snapshot available.

Following NBC was CBS which came in at 12.8%. CBS having lost its Super Bowl coverage to FOX as nearly supplanted by the network that did provide Super Bowl coverage. The fact that the game was a blowout hardly mattered given the advance nature of purchasing that famously expensive ad time. FOX was a close third at 11.1%, a considerably higher number than its historic Q1.

The cable families

ABC was a distant fourth place with 8.8% barely beating out Viacom, Inc. (NASDAQ:VIA)’s cable networks who booked 8.4% of ad revenues for the quarter. Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:TWX)-Turner cable networks took in 8.3% with Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA)’s Cable Networks 8.2%.

“Being only partway through the first quarter, there are still bookings to be placed or posted, so the leading cable network families that are closely bunched together, Viacom, Time Warner-Turner, and Comcast can still exchange places, ” stated SQAD’s James Boyle after evaluating the data.

While cable is still up in the air, the network rankings will remain the way they are. Given the amount that NBC paid for the Olympics, this was a quarter not dissimilar to the U.S. efforts in speed skating, not a gold medal performance.