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The Winter Olympics were a boon to new national TV ad spending during the week ending February 11th. Expenditures for new ads increased 77%t from the previous week (excluding spend during Super Bowl LII) to reach $256 million. The winter games were responsible for $91 million of these expenditures, or 35%.

The last Winter Olympics in 2014 set a record of $977 million for national TV ad spend, easily beating the previous high of $831 million set in 2006. This milestone is likely to be eclipsed by the 2018 competition in PyeongChang, South Korea, and with the event just getting started, we are likely to see higher than typical spend levels over the coming weeks.

TV Ad Spend Weekly | 2.11.18
Comcast made a choice media buy on its own channel, and Chevy spent big for the Olympics

There's no surprise as millions of American eyes are expected to invest in Olympic action — and four of the five spots featured this week spent big on the occasion. The only exception was Kay Jewelers, who seems to have a variety of spots, leading to this Valentine's week spot, featuring the YouTube star trick shooters Dude Perfect. Appealing to a millennial-male audience, and not looking to spend Olympic money, it's a wise play to reach the other important sports programming during the week. 

Walmart and Verizon spent a decent amount of money and combined bought as much air time as Comcast. Verizon, playing up the themes of heroism, aired a piece thanking first responders, and Walmart took advantage of family-friendly programming.

As an official partner of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), Comcast spent all of its national TV budget this week on three new ads which featured Olympic and Paralympic athletes. In addition to being an official USOC partner, Comcast NBCUniversal also holds the U.S. media rights to the Olympic Games through 2032. As such, the TV advertising was placed exclusively during airings of the Olympic Games on NBC networks.

The majority of spending, $4.3 million supported an ad featuring Rico Roman, a Paralympic athlete and retired Army Staff Sergeant who explains how he used hockey as another way to serve his country after losing a leg while serving in Iraq. Roman was introduced to sled hockey in 2008 by Operation Comfort, an organization that provides assistance to US servicemen and women. He took home the gold at the Paralympic Winter Games 2014.

The remainder of Comcast’s budget was split among two commercials. One spot featured Afton, Minnesota hometown hero and Olympic cross-country skier, Jessie Diggins, as she receives an outpouring of love and support from her community and sends the sentiment right back to them from PyeongChang.

Another ad, which promotes Comcast Business, showcases a compilation of Team USA athletes in grueling training sessions. The spot shows them giving all that they can to achieve their dreams, in workouts that are now powered by the same gig speed network that powers America’s businesses.

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This data is part of ongoing reporting released on a weekly basis with Kantar Media using its AdScope tool.