The Super Bowl doesn’t just mean football to NBCUniversal.
The Comcast-owned media conglomerate will use its coming February 1st broadcast of the big game from Phoenix, Arizon, to boost most of its holdings, ranging from its “Today” and “Tonight” franchises to its Universal movie studio and suite of cable networks, John Miller, chief marketing officer of NBC Sports Group, said in an interview.
“We try to utilize as much of it as we can,” said Miller, a veteran TV executive who spent many years marketing the programming of the NBC broadcast network.
Over the course of the day of the game, NBC will feature a morning-to-wee-hours schedule all centered around the event, encompassing “Today” holding forth from Phoenix; several hours of pre-game coverage; a showing of drama “The Blacklist” after the Super Bowl ends; and a Jimmy Fallon-hosted “Tonight” that will wrap the day. On Monday, of course, “Today” will air once again with the Super Bowl hoopla striking a major theme. Among the properties set to originate from Phoenix in the week leading up to the game or on Game Day are “Today,” “Access Hollywood,”“Tonight,” “E! News,” “NHL Live,” “Premiere League Live” “NBC Sports Radio” and “NBC Sports Digital.”
NBCU will give the bulk of its promo time available during the Super Bowl itself to programming featured on its flagship broadcast outlet, Miller suggested, though he noted many cable networks and Universal would also benefit from promos set to run throughout the day. Other properties will get a boost, too, he said: CNBC is expected to have a team broadcasting from Phoenix, as will NBCU’s Golf Channel and sports-focused NBCSN. Seth Meyers, host of “Late Night,” is expected to make a game-related appearance as well the day before the broadcast, Miller said.
NBCU and its owner, Comcast, have reason to link as much of the company’s portfolio to the gridiron classic as possible. Even the pre-game show that day will lure an audience that is higher than much of what normal TV shows attract, Miller said. “It’s primetime broadcast ratings from 2 or 2:30 in the afternoon, and it just grows from there. Would you like to be in ‘The Voice’? Because that’s about what you’re in.” More than 18 divisions of NBCUniversal will be included in the promotional efforts surrounding the Super Bowl on NBC, including NBC Entertainment, NBC News, NBC Sports, six different films, theme parks and online movie-ticketing service Fandango.
NBCU is following a well-worn page from the media-business playbook. All of the companies that own a TV network that is part of the Super Bowl rotation – CBS Corp. (CBS), 21st Century Fox (Fox) and Comcast (NBC) – have in recent years used the big contest to draw attention to their wide array of properties, whether they be late-night programs or radio stations. With NFL rights costing the companies millions and millions of dollars over the length of their contract, it only makes financial sense to shine some of the Super Bowl spotlight on the host company’s own activities. Indeed, tallying up how much promo time different TV shows and networks receive on Super Bowl Sunday can stand as a barometer, of sorts, of what the parent company deems as most important to its business health.
CBS Corp. in 2013 used its broadcast of Super Bowl XLVII to draw attention to everything from daytime chatfest “The Talk” to “CBS This Morning.” NBC in 2012 got the word out about what was then called the NBC Sports Network, which had only recently rebranded itself from the cable network once known as Versus. In 2011, Fox – then part of News Corp. – tapped the Super Bowl to hype The Daily, a now-defunct publication designed just for distribution on the iPad. NBCU in 2009 ran ads for video-streaming service Hulu during the Super Bowl – the site, then also owned by News Corp., was in start-up mode.
But NBCU won’t wait until the last minute to start talking about Super Bowl XLIX. Starting Sunday, the network will air a new promo touting an “All Day Super Bowl Party on NBC.” The 30-second spot is slated to run through February 1 and features all of the programming that will appear on the day of the Super Bowl broadcast.
The ad aims to tell viewers NBCU’s Super Bowl efforts “go a little bit earlier and a little bit later” than other networks might for the same event, Miller said. Fox, for example, does not have a national morning program or a national late-night talk show
The promo could serve another purpose. NBC said last week that it has weathered a tougher market for Super Bowl advertising than has existed in years past. The network still has a handful of advertising slots available. The promos – in reality, commercials for the Super Bowl – might whet the appetite of certain potential sponsors for the game. NBC has been seeking between $4.4 million and $4.5 million for a 30-second ad slot in the 2015 broadcast – a record price. The 2013 broadcast of the Super Bowl fetched $292 million in ad spending, according to Kantar Media.