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NBC sells record $1-billion in Olympic ads

This July 15, 2012 file photo shows the Olympic rings displayed outside the basketball arena in the Olympic Park before the start of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

AP

Comcast's NBCUniversal has booked a record $1-billion (U.S.) in national television and digital advertising sales for the London Olympics, paving the way for the broadcaster to recoup the $1.18-billion it paid for U.S. media rights to the games.

NBC is planning its most extensive broadcast of the games to date. Kicking off with the opening ceremony on Friday night, NBC will present more than 5,535 hours of coverage across its television networks and digital properties. NBC will live stream every athletic competition – or 3,500 hours – to the web. For the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, NBC live streamed 2,200 hours online.

The U.S. broadcaster said its digital offerings have bolstered ad sales, but that it still had capacity for further adsDigital sales this year are more than $60-million, about three times more than in 2008. NBC's total ad sales for the London Games have been $150-million higher than during the Beijing Olympics.

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"The proliferation of our digital, mobile and tablet Olympic content, including the decision to live stream all sporting events, played a vital role in reaching this extraordinary milestone," said Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBC Sports Group.

The news comes amid a protest from the online group unPAC over the airing of political ads during the Games. More than 15,000 people have signed an online petition lobbying NBC not to broadcast ads from super-Pacs and other special interest groups. Restore Our Future, a group supporting Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, has bought $7.2-million in local ads to run during the London Olympics.

NBC said the $1-billion national ad sales figure did not include super-Pac ad spending.

Copyright The Financial Times Ltd. All rights reserved.

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