UPDATE 2-NBC expects record Olympics profit despite ratings drop
(Adds comments from media experts)
By Lisa Richwine
LOS ANGELES Aug 11 (Reuters) - Comcast Corp's NBCUniversal expects to generate record profits from coverage of the Rio Olympics despite so far losing a U.S. ratings battle compared to the Games four years ago.
An average of 30.3 million people have watched NBC's television networks and digital platforms during prime time on each of the first five days of competition, according to Nielsen data provided by the network.
That's an 8.6 percent drop from the audience watching NBC during the 2012 London Olympics, raising questions about why the audience is shrinking when there is more programming than ever on computers and mobile phones.
But NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus on Thursday said the audience size is in line with the network's expectations about changing viewer habits. Before the games started, the company had said it could top the $120 million profit from the 2012 Olympics. That is still the case, Lazarus said.
"This will be our most economically successful Games," Lazarus confirmed to reporters on a conference call.
The media company had sold $1.2 billion worth of ad time on its TV networks and digital outlets before the Games in Rio opened last Friday. It has added $30 million more since then. "Our advertisers are happy," Lazarus said.
If NBC does not meet the ratings guarantees it provided to advertisers, the network will offer them free commercial time later during the Games, Lazarus said, and it has enough inventory to do so. Continuación...