After a string of disappointing years in prime time, NBC executives had high hopes for a turnaround with the Beijing Olympics; but those hopes were tempered by a string of concerns.
Would China display some of its repressive political tendencies and potentially embarrass NBC? Would a protest or incident mar the feel-good atmosphere? Most of all, would enough viewers show up to justify the $894 million NBC Universal paid for the American television rights?
With so many concerns, the network's sales department felt compelled to scale back the ratings guarantee it offered to advertisers. The network also withheld some commercial inventory for use as what is known as make-good ads -- free commercials offered to compensate advertisers for under-delivery of an audience.