NBC's primetime strategy in covering the 2012 London Olympics has been well documented, scrutinized, analyzed, and criticized over the first week of the games. Lord knows there's been enough words written on the tape delaying of events one way or the other.
Nevertheless, the bottom line for NBC is that the London Olympics has been an unmitigated success from a business standpoint... and that's really what this is all about, isn't it? In spite of the $1.2 BILLION dollar pricetag to televise the London Games, NBC is doing much better than expected and may even make a profit after expecting heavy losses from a tape-delayed European Olympics. From Bloomberg...
“We could make a little bit of money,” Lazarus said during an Olympics media conference today. “We’ll know over the next couple of weeks.”
The network’s TV audience has exceeded that of the Beijing games four years ago over six nights so far, Lazarus said. That has allowed NBC to charge more than expected for additional advertising time the New York-based company is making available, he said. The network initially projected a $200 million loss.
NBC Universal Chief Executive Officer Steve Burke said yesterday he expects to be “right around” break even.
Why the unexpected success? NBC has had some of the best ratings in NBC's Olympic history and nightly increases over Beijing 2008. With those high ratings, NBC can sell additional ad space at a higher rate and make even more money. Furthermore, all those insanely annoying advertisements on the live streaming produced an extra $60 million in online sales for NBC.
So why the higher ratings? American gold medals and a rise in popularity of the Olympic brand are the foundations of NBC's success in London. The Phelps v Lochte rivalry has been a big winner as has the women's gymnastics team and all-around gold medalist Gabby Douglas. NBC's primetime coverage is all about crafting drama and creating stars that have crossover appeal to mainstream America. The London Olympics has provided that in spades.