The 2016 Summer Olympics have been described as an “unnatural disaster” and a “catastrophe.” A sign at the airport greets tourists with the phrase “Welcome to Hell.” The acting governor of the host city has said the entire event could be a “big failure.” Dozens of athletes are opting out of the games altogether over fears about Zika virus, unfinished stadiums, polluted waters, and a list of other issues that seems to grow longer each week.

Don’t tell that to NBCUniversal Chief Executive Steve Burke, however. The head of the broadcaster who owns U.S. broadcasting rights for the games sees nothing but good times ahead, especially when it comes to their bottom line.

After a press preview on Monday of NBC’s Olympics coverage, Burke told the Los Angeles Times that the company has hit its sales target for the Rio Games, which he said will end up being be “the most profitable Olympics in history.”

When asked how profitable he expects the Games to be, he said: “You’ll find out when we release our earnings, but we’re way ahead of where we were in London, and London was profitable. Sochi was profitable” in 2014.

NBC says they brought in $1 billion in ad sales for the 2012 London Olympic Games and NBC Sports Group’s EVP for Ad Sales Seth Winter says the Rio games are approaching $1.2 billion with orders still coming in.

NBC will broadcast the games across their network as well as several cable channels (NBCSN, Bravo, CNBC, MSNBC, Telemundo, etc.) for the full 17 days of the games beginning on August 5. All-told they expect to broadcast over 6,700 hours of programming across their networks  They also plan to stream 4,500 hours of coverage online, 1,000 more than the London games.

According to Winter, NBC is promising advertisers household ratings in the “high teens,” which fits with the 17.5 household share they received in 2012. The network also expects Rio’s ratings to be higher considering the lack of a tangible time difference, which will allow them to show more events live (except for the opening ceremonies). It should be noted that the ratings guarantees include “live plus same day” numbers and do not include DVR viewing or streaming. It’s assumed that streamed coverage advertising will be handled differently.

NBC paid $4.32 billion to the International Olympic Committee for the rights to the 2014 and 2018 Winter Games as well as the 2016 and 2020 Summer Games. Assuming current ad buy numbers hold, they should be well on their way to recouping that cost by the time 2020 rolls around.

[LA Times]

About Sean Keeley

Sean Keeley is the creator of the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and author of 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and many other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle. Send tips/comments/complaints to

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