EXCLUSIVE: The stars of NBC’s biggest series will be telling the stories of the stars of NBC’s biggest sports franchise The main cast of hit drama This Is Us are set for a series of promos for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo on NBC, each narrating a brief life story of a top Team USA Olympian.
The first three spots, featuring This is Us‘ Sterling K. Brown narrating gymnastics superstar Simone Biles, Milo Ventimiglia narrating track star Noah Lyles, and Susan Kelechi Watson narrating swimmer Simone Manuel, will be released on Thanksgiving during NBC’s highly-rated coverage of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the National Dog Show and the Saints-Falcons NFL primetime game. The promos will also air across various NBC/This Is Us, NBC Sports and NBC Olympics platforms following their network debut. (you can watch Brown’s video above.)
There are a total of seven This Is Us Olympics promos. Upcoming sports will be narrated by series stars Mandy Moore, Chrissy Metz, Justin Hartley and Chris Sullivan.
NBC Sports CMO Jenny Storms said that the idea for a partnership between This Is Us and the Olympics came about months ago when the network’s Olympics and entertainment teams brainstormed ideas for possible collaborations.
“The family, the great back stories, the life struggles. the human spirit. All of these Incredible values are part of the foundation not only of This Is Us and the storylines that they are telling but the storylines of the Olympians that are trying to make the games in Tokyo 2020,” Storms said.
A decision was made to “showcase some of the great Olympians’ stories by pairing them with This Is Us actors and bring them to live in a real, first-person way.”
This Is Us has a strong female appeal, as do the Olympics. The audience compatibility was not lost on the NBC Sports team working on the collaboration with the NBC family drama.
“The combination of This Is Us being such a prominent and popular show across demographics but also females and of the strong pull that the Olympics has for female audiences makes it a natural fit,” Storms said. “On the female side, we have such a great natural organic opportunity because the women of Team USA are so strong. In the 2012, 14, 16 and 18 Olympics, 50% or more of the Team USA medals were won by women.”
For the collaboration, the NBC Sports team shared with the This is Us stars the stories of a number of accomplished Olympics athletes, giving them “the opportunity to connect with what was meaningful to them, which stories they may want to be part of.”
This marks the most integrated campaign to date, with NBC actors on the entertainment side involved directly in storytelling of Olympics-related content.
Originally, the campaign was slated to launch in the spring, around the Season 4 finale of This Is Us. But when the finished promos started to come in, the Olympics team opted to air the first three on Thanksgiving.
“These stories are incredibly powerful, but more importantly, many of these stories have an amazing family, community storyline and connection. So what better time to bring the pieces to life and showcase a few of them than Thanksgiving,” Storms said.
Both Biles and Manuel are Olympic gold medalists from Rio 2016. Biles is regarded as the greatest gymnast of all time, while Manuel is the first African-American woman to win Olympic swimming gold. Lyles is expected to compete in his first Olympics in Tokyo, and is the current world champion in the men’s 200 meters.
For now, there are no plans for further involvement of This Is Us in NBC’s Olympics coverage, here or on the ground in Tokyo, but “there is a sense of energy and excitement around this entire collaboration, which is opening a lot more doors as well as ideas,” Storms said.
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