Why NBCU Is Touting Its Rio Olympics A Year Before The Opening Ceremony

2016 Rio Olympics: NBCU Unveils Promo
Courtesy of NBC Sports

Talk about trying to light a torch: NBCUniversal is gearing up to remind viewers of its media properties that it will air the 2016 Summer Olympics from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — a year before the torch makes its way to the Games’ Opening Ceremonies.

On Wednesday, the company will  “road block” a 60-second promo (a scene from it shown above), launching it at 8 p.n. Eastern almost simultaneously on all 18 of its broadcast and cable networks — NBC, Telemundo, Bravo, CNBC, MSNBC, USA, and NBCSN and Golf Channel. Even Chiller and Cloo, two properties that don’t normally get a lot of attention, are expected to be part of the mix. The message will also go out via NBCU digital properties, at NBCU-owned theme parks and through reports on “Today” and “NBC Nightly News.”

“We never take it for granted, because you do not get a second chance,” said John Miller, chief marketing officer of NBC Sports Group, and a veteran hand at the marketing of TV programs. “It’s a massive event.” By drawing attention to its Olympics coverage now, NBCU gives its ad-sales team reason to get in touch with potential sponsors about taking part in the telecasts and, perhaps, working with the company to create opportunities to make a bigger splash during the proceedings.

NBCU and its parent company, Comcast, have reasons to push the Rio Olympics. In 2014, the International Olympic Committee unveiled an extension of its pact with NBCU that gives the company all U.S. media rights to Olympic games through 2032. Previously, NBCU struck an agreement in 2011 to pay $4.38 billion for games from 2014 through 2020. NBCUniversal has with each new Olympics telecast made more of the content available via digital means.

Viewers can expect to see NBCU do more promotion of the Games during football games, particularly around Thanksgiving, said Miller. In May, the effort will branch out across NBC and major cable networks.

In one particularly interesting idea set to debut this week, Olympic beach balls were sent to NBC affiliates to allow local morning-news anchors to preview the segments slated to air on “Today.” Those TV stations  will also offer promotional announcements, editorial coverage, and social-media content surrounding the Olympics.