LOS ANGELES — The tally is in: NBC lost $223 million on the Winter Olympics in the first quarter.
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That’s slightly better than the most recent estimate of $250 million in losses. Advertising sales have improved a bit since NBC parent General Electric Co. made that projection in late January.
(Msnbc.com is a joint venture between NBC Universal and Microsoft.)
The Olympics did bring about $800 million in extra revenue to GE. But NBC had a lot of production and other expenses, including $820 million just to acquire the rights to carry the Vancouver Games on television and online. That expense was cited as the main culprit for the red ink.
Still, GE executives said the high-profile event had ratings that were 14 percent better than the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, for which NBC paid $613 million.
And GE Chief Financial Officer Keith Sherin said the Olympics provided a good platform to advertise its new 10 p.m. lineup and Jay Leno returning to “The Tonight Show” at 11:35 p.m.
Cable TV giant Comcast Corp. is seeking government approval to acquire a 51 percent stake in NBC Universal from GE. The Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department are expected to approve the deal with conditions that are not yet known.
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