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A $1-billion Olympics for NBC Universal?

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The average cost of a 30-second commercial during NBC Universal’s coverage of the upcoming Beijing Games is about $750,000, according to a network television executive who is familiar with the company’s ad rates.

NBC recently said that 85% of its Olympic advertising time has been sold. If the media company sells all of its ads -- and there are plenty to be sold on NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, USA, Oxygen, Bravo and Telemundo -- the media company could generate $1 billion in overall sales.

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Among those buying time on NBC Universal’s broadcast outlets: Barack Obama, who is spending $5 million to pitch himself alongside such Olympic veterans as Anheuser Busch and McDonald’s. Advertising Age reports that Obama is the first presidential candidate since Bob Dole in 1996 to buy network advertising time during an Olympics broadcast. Most candidates have stuck to local television and cable buys.

NBC Universal’s billion-dollar payout depends in part upon its ability to sell advertising through its nbcolympics.com website. The company will stream thousands of hours of live action during the Beijing Games.

Website operators hope to unveil an online system next week that will allow fans to easily determine when their favorite sport is to be streamed online. NBCOlympics.com already has a system in place that allows television viewers to see what’s going to be broadcast. Fans also can sign up for myriad alerts delivered via cellphone.

Bob Costas will be in Beijing for his seventh Olympics as prime-time host of NBC’s coverage but won’t be stuck in the studio. He will be joined by 106 announcers and commentators.

-- Greg Johnson


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