Election, Olympics Boost Ad Sales


It may be a slow year for ad sales, but there are some bright spots in 2008 that may save the day for operators. Political ad spending is beginning to pick up speed and many MSOs are seeing strong local sales for NBC Universal’s upcoming coverage of the Summer Olympic Games.

“Sales for the upcoming Summer Games have been very strong for us,” said Bresnan Communications regional vice president of advertising services Kelly Enright. “We have put a lot of focus on the games this year and it’s paying off.”

Comcast Spotlight in Boston is also seeing strong results from the Beijing Olympics, said Marc Stein, area sales manager for Comcast Spotlight.

“We are doing well,” Stein said. “The Olympics always does well for us. It’s a worldwide stage we can bring down to the local level. That’s what we do: bring national — and in this case international — programming down to local level advertisers and viewers can identify with. To be affiliated with the Olympics is valuable and our advertisers know and understand that.”

NBCU will deliver more than 3,600 hours of multiplatform coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games beginning Aug. 8. The company will offer more than 700 hours of TV coverage on NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, USA Network, Oxygen, Telemundo, NBC HD, Universal HD, USA HD, and CNBC HD Plus. That gives operators plenty of opportunities to lure advertisers.

NBCU has created several campaigns this year to help operators hype and sell the quadrennial event. On the local ad sales front, the programming giant has provided affiliates with internal and external materials, including a series of taggable ads, printed postcards and broadcast calendars, among other materials, designed to lure advertisers to the games. A PowerPoint presentation, for instance, provides account executives with demographic information to make the games an easier and smarter sale. It can also be used as a training tool to better pitch the Olympics to potential and existing clients.

“NBC’s support is top-notch and this year is no different from the past,” Enright said. “They know what it takes to help their affiliates sell this event and they do a good job of providing what we need.”

Stein agreed, noting that the taggable ads are popular among advertisers — and Boston doesn’t even have any of the special promotional spots featuring local Olympians that local advertisers can tag. The locally tied spots, available in 20 markets, feature Dallas track and field athlete Jeremy Wariner, Cleveland gymnast Paul Hamm and San Francisco swimmer Natalie Coughlin, among others.

“It’s not so much a sporting event as it is human success and feel-good stories,” he said. That opens the games to a whole different set of clients that might eschew traditional sports-related avails.

“NBC knows how to deliver the games to viewers in a way that is compelling and enticing,” said Enright. “The games deliver whole households and that is a compelling sales offer.”

Bresnan will not insert on all the channels covering the Olympics. Enright said the MSO is concentrating on selling spots on USA Network and CNBC.

“We’re lucky to have the games this year,” Enright said. “We’ve sold more than 40 packages so far this year. It’s been very strong. We’ve priced it aggressively and people bond with the games, so it’s a popular sale.”