Rio Olympics on track to smash advertising record - Seven

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 18 February 2016

The Rio Olympic Games “is shaping up” to be the most lucrative ever for broadcaster Seven as the uptake of sponsors is on target to smash previous records.

The broadcaster generated more than $100 million in advertising revenue for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and is expecting to comfortably exceed this amount for the Rio games.

“The way things are tracking at the moment it is going to be the biggest Olympic Games in history from the way we deliver it and the revenue it attracts,” Seven chief revenue officer Kurt Burnette told AdNews. “The interest and uptake at the partner and sponsor level is unprecedented.”

Burnette says there has been strong interest from traditional advertisers in the automotive, retail and financial services sectors.

“It is some of the others that are proving to be more interesting – non-traditional advertisers coming in,” he adds, explaining Seven will start revealing partners and sponsors in a few weeks.

“The Olympics represents one of those rare commodities where it brings in a lot of light viewers - another 30% of light viewers - and another 35% of high-end socio-economic viewers, so it's particularly attractive for advertisers looking to chase those."

Sponsor packages have ranged between $5 million to $10 million and include the Paralympics, which Seven is hosting for the first time.

“We've been overwhelmed with the support the Paralympics have got. The idea of the Paralympics and what those athletes do has been hugely supported to the advertisers – a real joy to sell,” Burnette says, adding there is also interest in Paralympic-only packages.

Although the Rio Games is not as time zone friendly as Sydney or Beijing, coverage promises to be more comprehensive due to Seven's live-streaming with up to more than 36 streams at peak times.

Seven is offering viewers a premium subscription service, has social media rights and will look to on-sell radio broadcasting rights - all new revenue streams. It is also planning localised live events that "bring Rio to Australia".

For sponsors, there are more opportunities for integrated and experiential activations, which Seven has fine-tuned through its Australian Open experience.

Burnette, a veteran of five summer Olympic Games, says Rio will be the most cost-effective to produce.

“It is a split operation. Because of where Rio is, a lot of the production will have to be done in Australia. We will also have people on the ground in Rio and it will be the most comprehensive coverage we've seen,” he says.

Although the cost of broadcasting rights remains tight-lipped at Seven, it is understood to be worth between $150 million and $170 million.

This is dwarfed by the US$1.28 billion NBC is paying for US rights. The US broadcaster told Adweek it is on track to break through the $1 billion barrier with a couple of deals worth $25 million to $50 million.

Seven bosses will be banking on a strong Olympics after a below-par end to 2015 in which TV advertising revenue decline was well below the market average, partly due to major sports events on rival networks.

For Burnette, Rio is well on track to being the most lucrative Olympics to date: “It is certainly shaping up that way.”

Seven's chief digital officer Clive Dickens recently told AdNews the Rio Olympics will have bigger and better digital coverage than the heavily streamed Australian Open. 

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