As viewing of the Olympic Games continues to spread out across digital platforms, NBCUniversal and Twitter are teaming to deliver daily video coverage of the Tokyo Games beyond the pay-TV bundle.
The two companies will create a daily, 20-minute studio show originating live from Tokyo. It will feature highlights, athlete interviews, and coverage from the host city, as well as recaps of Twitter reactions to the Games. Plus, a daily poll will allow Twitter users to choose one livelook-in to NBC’s Primetime or Primetime Plus broadcasts each night, and video highlights throughout each competition day. The poll will also allow for users to vote on specific athletes, sports or moments to view.
NBCU earlier this week reaffirmed its confidence in the Olympics as a major driver of advertising revenue, estimating that Tokyo will clear the $1.2 billion bar set by the 2016 Rio Games. In 2016, while linear ratings fell by double digits compared with previous Olympics, digital consumption made up the difference and kept the venture profitable. This time around, the time zones are considerably less friendly to live U.S. broadcasts, with Tokyo 13 hours ahead of New York.
Throughout this decade, the Olympics have maintained viewer interest but operationally have become something of a canary in the coal mine for a rapidly evolving TV ecosystem. For many years, NBC, which paid $7.75 billion in a 2014 contract extension to carry the Games through 2032, protected its investment by airing primetime packages showing action that had already happened. With social media enabling sports fans around the world to learn results in real time, that strategy appeared less and less viable as time passed.
With the new initiative, both companies plan to not only engage Twitter users but also to drive them to NBC’s multi-platform coverage. NBC Olympics will lead the sales process for the initiative, with Twitter providing sales resources. All content will appear on the @NBCOlympics handle, sold as Twitter in-stream sponsorships by NBC Olympics.
“We have had a long and effective Olympic relationship with Twitter, which provides a perfect complement to our coverage and is an ideal platform for the massive social conversation that occurs during every Olympic Games,” said Gary Zenkel, President, NBC Olympics. “Over the last four Games, we have worked with Twitter to fuel the Olympic conversation and connect fans and brands with the cultural moments that unite the nation and the world.”
“A seminal event like the Olympics offered us the opportunity to think bigger and more robustly about how fans can engage in and around the world-class content that the NBC Olympics team will be bringing to bear. We’re excited to bring a daily live look-in to the NBC Primetime or Primetime Plus broadcasts and highlights from NBC Olympics to Twitter next summer, while also giving fans the chance to influence what they want to see in their timeline,” said Kay Madati, Global Vice President and Head of Content Partnerships at Twitter. “This partnership gives us the opportunity to bring our highly engaged audience even closer to NBC Olympics’ coverage of the action happening in Tokyo, providing more content to fuel the already electric Olympic conversation on Twitter.”