The Olympic rings on the Olympic Park basketball arena in London. NBCUniversal… (Jae Hong / Associated Press )
NBCUniversal has sold more than $1 billion in advertising time for its coverage of the London Olympic Games, which officially begin Friday.
The network said Wednesday that this year's haul is approximately $150 million more than it collected for commercial sales during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, NBC's previous record for Olympics coverage.
Still, coverage of the Summer Games is expected to be a money loser for NBCUniversal, which is now controlled by Comcast Corp.
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NBCUniversal nearly a decade ago agreed to pay $1.18 billion for the TV rights to the London Games. The company is spending at least $100 million for staffing and equipment to televise the events. The media giant has nearly 3,400 people working on its Olympics coverage.
David Joyce, a media analyst with the investment firm Miller Tabak & Co., last month predicted that NBCUniversal could lose more than $100 million on the London Games. NBCUniversal has declined to divulge its bottom-line estimates.
"We are not done yet and will continue to sell during the Games,” Seth Winter, executive vice president of sales for NBC Sports Group, said in a statement.
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NBCUniversal's $1-billion total includes ad sales across all of its various platforms that are broadcasting the events: the NBC and Spanish-language Telemundo broadcast networks; cable channels NBC Sports Network, MSNBC, CNBC and Bravo; a 3-D channel; the NBCOlympics.com website; and mobile phone and tablet applications.
NBC credited its decision to live stream every athletic competition — more than 3,500 hours, including all 32 sports and all 302 medal events — for increasing the volume of commercials sold.
“This is a tremendous accomplishment that is a credit to the hard work of our entire Olympic team and speaks to the long-term benefits of our Olympic investment,” Mark Lazarus, chairman of the NBC Sports Group, said in a statement.
“The proliferation of our digital, mobile and tablet Olympic content, including the decision to live stream all sporting events, played a vital role in reaching this extraordinary milestone.”
NBC said digital ad sales for London have topped $60 million, nearly three times the total for 2008, when events were streamed on one website, NBCOlympics.com. There were no mobile or tablet apps for the Beijing Games.
National television ad sales represented more than $950 million, up approximately $100 million from the level sold for Beijing, NBC said.
“This feat is a testimony to the quality of Olympic programming and the unparalleled way NBCU presents, produces and covers the Games,” Winter said. “It also demonstrates the power of the Olympics. No other property has such a diverse group of sponsors."
NBCUniversal plans 5,535 hours of coverage of the 2012 London Olympics, 2,000 more than it provided for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.