SBD/January 28, 2014/Media

Lindsey Vonn Says She's Up To The Challenge Of Being An NBC Olympic Correspondent

Vonn was constantly petting her dog during interview on "Today"
U.S. skier Lindsey Vonn this morning discussed her new correspondent role with NBC during the Sochi Games and said while she is "looking forward to this new challenge," she is "not looking forward to waking up this early." Vonn said, "That's not going to be fun." Vonn, who will not compete in Sochi after having knee surgery earlier this month, will stay in the U.S. instead of travelling to Russia. She will offer a daily report on "Today" and contribute to other aspects of NBC's Olympic coverage. Vonn noted it is "going to be so hard" watching the U.S. team compete in Sochi while she is recovering. She said, "It's already hard enough. You guys run commercials about Sochi about every two minutes and it's killing me." NBC's Matt Lauer jokingly said, "You’re welcome." She continued, "I'm trying not to watch as much as I can, but it's going to be really, really hard to watch the Alpine events." Vonn appeared on camera from her couch, with her knee in a brace and her dog in her lap. She said she is "recovering well" from the surgery and has "committed myself to racing through to the next Olympics" in Pyeongchang in '18 ("Today," NBC, 1/28). For one person’s initial reaction to Vonn’s performance on “Today” this morning, see the SBD/SBJ On The Ground blog.

TAKING THE CHALLENGE: NBC Olympics Exec Producer Jim Bell said it would be "a challenge" for Sochi to top the net's primetime audience from the '10 Vancouver Games, which averaged a 13.8 rating over 17 nights. Former CBS Sports President Neal Pilson said, "I don’t think there will be a record TV audience." But he added, "Advertisers will get the benefit of cumulative ratings, which will be quite acceptable" (N.Y. POST, 1/26). Meanwhile, SI.com's Richard Deitsch wrote NBC is "talking like a responsible news-gathering entity" with respect to issues like gay rights and terrorism. But "we shall see." NBC Sports Group Chair Mark Lazarus said, "We have spent a lot of time thinking about how we're going to cover the news. Our partnership with NBC News makes this pretty easy and also a balancing act on how we're going to work. We will cover any social or political issues as they are relevant to the Games from a sports perspective. NBC News will be there in full force with all of its journalists and all of its shows to cover news items. We've been doing this on an ongoing basis, whether it's related to security, or as you've already seen, as it relates to the LGBT situation that is in Russia" (SI.com, 1/26).

GOIN' MOBILE: In Boston, Jessica Van Sack noted Sochi will be the first "mobile games," as AT&T, Samsung, NBC and Team USA are "just some of the big names that have developed mobile apps" specifically for the Olympics. The offerings "range from cheesy games to useful encyclopedias of Olympic knowledge, allowing spectators to virtually follow the path of the torch, keep tabs on their favorite teams and view exclusive content." The Team USA "Road to Sochi" app is "sleek" and "well-designed." The "best part about this ... app is the ability to add your favorite players to your own 'team.'” Meanwhile, the "Olympic Athletes' Hub" app "goes beyond Team USA to include thousands of social media profiles of Olympians." AT&T’s #itsOurTime app "invites users to videotape themselves chanting 'U-S-A!'” Finally, the "NBC Sports Live Extra" app is the "only way to watch each sporting event live while you’re on the go, but it was plagued with problems" during the '12 London Games (BOSTON HERALD, 1/27).

TO XFINITY AND BEYOND: The AP's Ryan Nakashima noted Comcast's Xfinity TV subscribers will "be able to tap the breadth of that online coverage on their big screens." Subscribers who use Comcast's latest-generation X1 video set-top box for the first time will be "able to access content that had once been 'digital only.'" That "includes use of the NBC Sports Live Extra app on big-screen TVs." The app this year "will include a buffed-up version of a live program called 'Gold Zone.'" It will "cut in and out of medal events and recap highlights" (AP, 1/27).

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE: NBC recently rounded out its Sochi campaign with a 30-second spot created by 2C Media in Miami. NBC execs involved in the spot included NBC Sports Group CMO John Miller, VP & Creative Dir Joseph Lee, Senior VP/Olympics Marketing Barbara Blangiardi and Coordinating Producer Justin Greenlee (THE DAILY).
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