SBJ/January 9 - 15, 2006/Media

NBC, ESPN strike deal on Olympic coverage

NBC has reached an agreement with ESPN to provide next-day video highlight clips to ESPN.com, while ESPN.com will display prominent links to NBC’s Olympic Web site.

The deal, financial terms of which were not disclosed, represents the first time NBC has ever licensed video highlights during the Olympic games to another media company, or had a promotional agreement with any of the prominent multisport Web sites. It is one of several partnerships in the new media space that NBC Olympics has announced or will announce over the next few weeks. The network also unveiled its wireless plans for the Olympics, adding video highlights to the existing NBC Mobile service, creating a branded wireless application protocol site and also offering ring tones and wallpaper through New York-based Zingy, an entertainment-oriented mobile media company. In addition, it reached an agreement with Intel to make high-resolution video available on www.NBCOlympics.com using Intel’s Viiv technology.

ESPN.com will provide links to NBC’s
Olympics Web site, NBCOlympics.com.

While Olympics content will be available through a variety of platforms, NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel said much of the focus when it comes to new media will be on broadband video, which has exploded in terms of consumer acceptance and availability since the last Olympics in Athens.

“Our Web site I think will set a new standard for how events should be and will be covered by a U.S. television network,” Zenkel said.

NBCOlympics.com, which totaled more than 13 million unique users during the Athens Olympics, will include bios on every U.S. athlete, blogs written by NBC on-air talent and people such as athlete Bode Miller’s friend and traveling buddy Jake Cerino (athletes are not allowed to write for the site), and video highlights of every Olympic event.

The video clips will contain 15-second advertisements, sold as part of broader NBCOlympics.com packages. ESPN.com will also have a daily two-minute highlight clip, produced by NBC and narrated by Bob Costas, and promoted by ESPN “SportsCenter.” ESPN.com will be able to sell its own advertising attached to the clip, but only to companies approved by NBC.

ESPN.com will have its own Olympic coverage from ESPN writers and columnists, but each ESPN story will contain links to the NBC site, where the real troves of Olympic information can be found.

“We could have created our own [site] for Torino and it would have been great,” said John Kosner, senior vice president and general manager of new media at ESPN. “But the audience coming to it would have been dwarfed by the audience coming to NBC, and both of us would have created a lot of the same things.”

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