Jan 19, 2004  •  Post A Comment

With three cable networks carrying 450 hours of Olympics coverage from Athens, Greece, NBC said cable operators can join athletes in going for the gold.
Joining MSNBC and CNBC, which carried the Salt Lake City Games two years ago, NBC’s Bravo will carry about 180 hours of Olympics. NBC is giving operators three minutes per hour in local time on Bravo to sell, up from the two minutes they get during regular Bravo programming.
David Zaslav, president of NBC Cable, said NBC is trying to provide maximum value to affiliates during these games. He added that NBC has not increased the fee it charges affiliates for carrying Olympics programming under contracts that mostly expire after the 2008 Games.
Bravo will air Olympics coverage from 5 a.m. to noon, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and noon to 2 a.m. weekdays. It will carry sports NBC perceives as matching Bravo’s arts theme. These include tennis, equestrian, track cycling, table tennis, archery and water polo.
CNBC, which will have Olympics coverage from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., will carry male-skewing sports such as boxing, while MSNBC will emphasize team sports, including basketball, softball and soccer. MSNBC will carry Olympics from 2 a.m. to 4 p.m. most weekdays.
In all, NBC Cable will cover nearly 100 gold medal final events and telecast twice the 225 hours that NBC will broadcast.
Because Greece is seven hours ahead of the East Coast, much of the daytime programming on cable will be live, unlike the Sydney Games in 2000. NBC Cable will have a single feed of Olympics programming, which means Bravo’s late-night telecast, featuring the most dramatic event of the day, will appear in prime time on the West Coast.
Cable coverage of the Olympics will be anchored by high-profile announcers, including Keith Olbermann, Mary Carillo, Pat O’Brien and Fred Roggin.
All of that programming should represent a bonanza for cable operators, according to NBC executives.
No Sales Figures
Brian Hunt, VP of affiliate ad sales and promotions, said affiliates do not share their sales results with NBC, and he could not provide a figure for how much revenue local ad sales generated during the 2002 Olympics. But he said operators reported selling about 90 percent of their availabilities, a very high figure. “Salt Lake was a home run,” Mr. Hunt said. He said he expects that they will be able to do that again, despite a big increase in inventory because of the addition of Bravo. That should translate into even more revenue, he said.
To help make that happen this Olympiad, NBC has sent local sales kits to 600 sales organizations. The kits include an 80-page presentation that contains volumes of ratings and demographic information about the event. NBC will also supply premiums such as T-shirts and mugs, a sales tape featuring the voice of NBC sportscaster Bob Costas and spots encouraging local businesses to become Olympics sponsors by advertising on cable.
And the promotional weight of NBC will ensure that viewers are aware that coverage is available on cable as well as broadcast, Mr. Hunt said.
NBC also offers local operators several sales strategies. For one thing, the network recommends packaging premium Olympics spots with some of its less attractive inventory. NBC also suggests getting Olympics advertisers to buy packages that cover six months.
In some cases, operators may want to contact advertisers who have bought Olympics time on the local NBC broadcast affiliates. But operators have also had success contacting competitors who also want a little bit of an Olympics connection.