Early Olympics Sales Boost NBCU's Upfront Ad Commitments to Nearly $7 Billion

NBC becomes latest to land double-digit pricing gains in stronger-than-anticipated market

NBCUniversal wrapped up its upfront advertising sales, becoming the latest broadcast company to score double-digit pricing gains in what’s been a better-than-expected ad market.

The company scored CPM increases — the cost for reaching 1,000 viewers — of 14% for its primetime lineup on the NBC broadcast network, as well as double-digit gains for its cable programming. Overall, NBCU had a 9% increase in pricing across its whole portfolio.

In terms of overall demand, NBCU saw a 10% increase in the amount of advertiser commitments (i.e. volume) that totaled nearly $7 billion, including early sales for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Without the Olympics, the volume increase was a more modest 3%; this was the first time the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to begin a year from now, were part of NBC’s upfront talks.

NBC Sports anticipates its 2020 Tokyo Olympics will “exceed” the $1.2 billion in national ad sales revenue that it generated with the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. The company’s ad sales are pacing “significantly” ahead of where they were at this time in 2015, group EVP Dan Lovinger said Tuesday on a conference call with media.

NBCU also saw an 8% increase in the amount of ad commitments for its NFL games and a 6% increase for MSNBC.

CBS and The CW finished theirs in June, and Fox wrapped up earlier this month. With NBCU having finished its ad negotiations during the upfront period (when most TV networks sell the majority of their commercial inventory for the coming year), only ABC/Disney has still yet to complete its upfront sales. This is the first time that Disney is selling across its Fox-infused portfolio, which now includes cable networks FX, FXX and Nat Geo.

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