As NBC’s beancounters tally the results of the completed 2018 Winter Olympics, it seems they are liking what they see.
Though ratings dipped for the Pyeongchang Games, the network says it delivered a profit thanks to record-breaking ad sales.
”We are successful against every important measurement,” Mark Lazarus, chairman, NBC Broadcasting and Sports, said in comments released by the network before the broadcast of the closing ceremonies from PyeongChang, South Korea.
“We finished PyeongChang with more than $920 million in national ad sales, a Winter Games record,” he said. “We added more than $20 million once the Games began due to viewership exceeding our advertiser guarantees.”
According to Broadcasting & Cable, Lazarus said this was the fourth straight Olympics at which NBC Universal turned a profit.
Given the time difference in South Korea, the lack of transcendent American stars and the prevailing trends in linear television, it was almost inevitable that the 2018 Olympics would decline in viewership from the 2014 iteration, and indeed they did. As of Saturday, NBC had drawn an average of 20.6 million viewers (based on its “Total Audience Delivery metric“), compared to 21.4 million in 2010 (a figure that would presumably be higher if inflated through Total Audience Delivery).
Still, it sounds as if NBC performed at least as well as expected and walked away relatively happy.
Turning a profit this year might make the future a little less scary for NBC, which coughed up some serious cash for rights to every Olympics through 2032, only to see live sports ratings decline with the rest of television viewership. NBC acquired rights to the Pyeongchang Olympics in 2011 as part of a $4.38 billion agreement for four Games, then nabbed six more Olympics in 2014 at a cost of $7.7 billion.
How well those deals hold up will depend less on how NBC came out in 2018 and more on how it does in, say, 2028, when the television industry could be even more in flux than it is now.