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NBC Olympic profits seen reaching $50m

Posted: Saturday August 14, 2004 4:35AM; Updated: Saturday August 14, 2004 4:35AM
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -- NBC could reap as much $50 million in profits from its coverage of the Athens Olympics that began Friday, putting it roughly in line with the 2000 Sydney games but off the pace of the more recent Winter Olympics, sources familiar with NBC's plans said.

The network declined to comment on an exact figure citing a long-standing practice of not discussing profit figures.

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"We are guaranteed profitability in the neighborhood of what we made in Sydney," NBC spokeswoman Cameron Blanchard told Reuters.

NBC also said its Web site for the games, NBCOlympics.com, will be profitable this year for the first time.

NBC, a unit of General Electric Co.'s NBC Universal media division, raked in about $75 million from the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, but generally speaking Olympic coverage of games in the United States is more profitable due to higher interest from local viewers and advertisers.

Blanchard also said that the network will have hit its goal of $1 billion in advertising sold for the games by the time of the opening ceremony. Thirty-second spots were said to be selling for more than $700,000 a piece.

NBC paid $793 million to broadcast this year's Olympics. It plans more than 1,200 hours of round-the-clock coverage over the 17 days of games across six of its broadcast and sister cable TV channels.

Industry watchers have questioned whether viewers would watch the Athens Games because of a lack of high-profile American stars versus past contests, and given that the last Olympics drew some of the lowest ratings of any Summer Olympics tracked by ratings authority Nielsen Media Research.

But the network has said stars will emerge from the games as they progress, and has argued that overall viewership should rise with the sharp increase in the number of hours of competition shown across the six networks.

Reuters/VNU

Copyright 2004 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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