Despite drawing criticism for its coverage and a 17 percent ratings drop, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke said the company made more than $250 million in advertising sales for the Rio Olympics, Deadline reported Wednesday.
Burke, who was speaking at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2016 Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, reportedly attributed the revenue to a 20 percent rise in ad sales. According to Deadline, the primetime ratings were down 17 percent compared to NBC’s coverage of the London Games in 2012 and 25 percent in the important 18-49 demographic.
“All the advertisers we talked to can’t wait to come back for Korea and Japan,” Burke said in reference to Pyeongchang’s turn as Winter Games host in 2018 and Tokyo’s duties for the 2020 Summer Games, respectively.
Burke acknowledged the hefty amount Comcast, NBCUniversal’s parent company, paid for the rights to air the Games but said it's also created new opportunities for the corporation and its other entities. Comcast paid $12 billion to cover the Olympics through 2032.
“We think it’s a perfect deal for us — we bought it at a premium but there are tremendous synergies and we have very very high hopes we did a smart acquisition,” Burke said.
Both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies experienced major drops in ratings, especially the former, which was the least-watched since the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona. The network also received flak for extended commercial breaks and for delaying broadcasts for many of the top events until primetime, even though Brazil’s Rio is one hour ahead of the United States’ Eastern Standard Time.
NBC still put up some strong numbers during the Summer Games compared to the competition. According to CNN Money, during one week of coverage, NBC drew 28.2 million primetime viewers, nearly four times the total audience of ABC, CBS, FOX, and CW combined.