Sports May Be Off The Field, But NBC Sports Boosts a Digital Game

This March 11 contest between the
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NBC Sports has turned to digital and social venues to rouse sports fans who can’t get their fix.

The NBCUniversal-owned unit has been trying to galvanize fans with the hashtag #onehometeam,  under which it distributes everything from a scavenger hunt to an invitation for fitness videos to people who might follow events associated with NBC Sports, such as hockey, football or the Olympics.

“Sports Twitter is a place where people love to debate just about everything,” says Lyndsay Signor, vice president of consumer engagement for NBC Sports and Olympics, in an interview, “We will toss out a variety of topics and let the fans weight in.”

NBC Sports faces a similar conundrum to every other major sports-media outlet in the U.S. The nation boasts a legion of sports fans, but the coronavirus pandemic has scuttled nearly every live sport they follow – including the games in the NBC Sports portfolio, which includes NHL games, “Sunday Night Football” and the Golf Channel.

ESPN recently kicked off a promotional campaign that has many of the same goals as the NBC effort. The Disney-backed sports-media outlet. In one spot, ESPN personalities including Stephen A. Smith, Doris Burke and Alex Rodriguez ask viewers to be mindful of social distancing. The other delivers a series of inspirational sports scenes and concludes with a wistful tagline: “We miss it too.”

In the weeks since the pandemic gripped the nation, NBC Sports has been introducing themed week devoted to the sports it normally carries, running classic “Sunday Night Football” games on NBCSN in one week, and NHL re-airs in another. Signor says executives have noticed different kinds of activity linked to the various weeks and searched for a way to get fans together.

“How do we create a way for fans and consumers to get everything under one roof?” she says executives asked.

As part of the initiative, NBC Sports is aggregating digital and social media content, and creating new content for fans. Among the videos distributed are at-home fitness routines from various professional athletes; scenes of amateur broadcasters calling a race in their backyards; and even some NBC Sports commentators doing play by play over user-generated videos.

“We do expect it to grow,” says Signor. “We expect more and more people to be engaged, and as sports do begin to come back, I think there’s still an opportunity for us to continue to turn with this campaign and adapt it a little bit.”