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SBJ/March 5-11, 2012/OlympicsPrint All
Editor's note: This story is revised from the print edition.
NBC and YouTube will team up to deliver the Olympics online this summer.
The Olympics rights holder has struck a technology and promotional partnership that will see YouTube provide the video player for NBCOlympics.com throughout the London Games.
Photo by:GETTY IMAGES
MSN provided the video player for the 2008 and 2010 Olympics, but its deal with NBC ended after the Vancouver Games.
NBC and YouTube declined to disclose specific terms of the new agreement, but digital media sources described it as a barter agreement in which YouTube provides the video service in exchange for the benefit of being associated with the Olympics.
The deal allows NBC to save money developing the infrastructure to support the massive amount of live video streams it will provide during the 17 days of the Olympics. Plus, it will benefit from having Olympic content promoted on YouTube’s heavily trafficked home page — in addition to exposure to the video-sharing website’s audience, which trends younger.
YouTube has more than 4 billion views a day, and 30 percent of its traffic comes from the U.S. NBC hopes many of the U.S. visitors to YouTube’s site will click on Olympics videos that take them to NBCOlympics.com, which will boost total traffic during the London Games.
NBC has not announced how many hours of live video it will offer this summer, but NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus said that all events will be broadcast live online or on TV. During the Beijing Games, NBC offered more than 2,200 hours of live video coverage and more than 20 simultaneous live video streams at peak times.
“We had an opportunity to look at the landscape and ask, ‘What is going to work for us?’” said Rick Cordella, vice president and general manager of NBC Sports and Olympics digital. “YouTube makes sense. They’re a young audience, heavily focused on video and they had the technology to pull off a massive amount of video consumption.”
There has been a steady decline in young viewers for NBC’s broadcasts of the Olympics in recent years. The average age of a Summer Olympics prime-time viewer has risen by nine years since the Barcelona Games, according to data from Magna Global. Cordella and others at the network see the relationship at YouTube as a way to reverse that trend.
“That’s one of the big pros,” Cordella said. “You’re hitting a younger audience consuming through these mediums. To have a conduit into them is a key for us.”
During the Beijing Games, NBCOlympics.com set records for unique visitors, page views and video streams. It averaged 6 million users daily, who spent 20 minutes on the site when they consumed video, according to NBC.
While not offering estimates, Cordella expects those numbers to be higher this summer because of NBC’s increased digital coverage plans and the fact that the London Games will take place during work hours in the U.S.
YouTube executives hope to benefit from that traffic by providing a branded video player that cements the company’s position as a leader in online video and drives traffic to its other video offerings.
“Providing fans an enhanced digital viewing experience across the thousands of hours of live Olympic games content is a significant moment for Olympic competition,” Claude Ruibal, YouTube’s global head of sports, said in a statement. “We’re excited to partner with NBC to bring the London Games to the millions of fans across a broad set of digital platforms and devices.”
Ruibal has a long history in the Olympics. He worked for ISL and launched World Championship Sports Network, which offered streaming video of Olympic sporting events. He sold a stake in WCSN to NBC in 2008, and it later was rebranded Universal Sports.
Cordella said that NBC will strike other partnerships to support its digital media offering during the Olympics. He suggested that one area where it might strike a deal is in social media.
“As you can imagine in 2012, any digital plan has to contain a social plan,” Cordella said. “You can expect us to be a player in that, as well.”
Sports Illustrated will return to the Olympic sponsorship fold for the first time since 2004.
The Time Inc. company signed a one-year agreement with the U.S. Olympic Committee to become an official media partner of Team USA.
Under terms of the agreement, Sports Illustrated will become a preferred advertising outlet for USOC sponsors, offering official partners a chance to advertise alongside Olympic coverage in the magazine and its tablet offering in the ramp-up to the London Games. In exchange for making Sports Illustrated an official partner, the USOC will receive advertising in the magazine to promote Team USA in the countdown to the Olympics.
“Sports Illustrated is a great brand that appeals to a huge segment of America interested in Olympic sports,” said USOC chief marketer Lisa Baird. “This is a real opportunity for us to expand what we’re telling consumers about our athletes and our marketing initiatives.”
The deal differs considerably from Sports Illustrated’s previous business relationships with Olympic organizations.
Sports Illustrated was an early supporter of the International Olympic Committee’s The Olympic Partner program, signing on in 1989, but it ended that relationship in 2005.
Tim Angelillo, Sports Illustrated’s executive director of property sales and strategic marketing, said that the company wanted to take on an official role again in part because it plans to devote more resources and send more writers, reporters, editors and photographers to cover the London Games than it did for the Beijing Olympics.
The deal also gives Sports Illustrated a chance to tap into the USOC’s roster of 30 sponsors for advertising support.
“Given our support and coverage of the Olympic Games going back to 1960, the official media partnership is something we sought,” Angelillo said.
Sports Illustrated has hosted parties at every Olympic Games since the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Tickets to the parties were some of the most sought-after during the Olympics, but Sports Illustrated scaled back its hospitality in recent years. The magazine partnered with Budweiser to throw a party during the Vancouver Games in 2010.
The deal with the USOC would allow Sports Illustrated to throw parties as an official Team USA partner for the first time in years, and that’s something the magazine is exploring, Angelillo said.
Team USA is taking over Times Square on April 18.
In its continued effort to create events outside the 17 days of the Olympics, the U.S. Olympic Committee has rented space in Times Square for a celebration of the 100-day mark until the opening ceremony for the London Games on July 27.
A rendering shows the setup for the USOC’s celebration marking 100 days till London.
“It’s far bigger and that says something,” said Lisa Baird, USOC’s chief marketing officer. “We had a lot of activation by our sponsors [last time] but we didn’t plan it with the lead time we needed. When we brought it to our sponsors again, we realized that 100 days out can be a major tent pole on our marketing calendar.”
Hilton was one of the first sponsors to commit to support the event. The company signed on as the event’s presenting sponsor and will use it to promote its Hilton HHonors program. The company will use its involvement to promote its “Come Dream With Us” marketing program, which includes a sweepstakes for consumers to attend the Games.
It’s “an opportunity to further our commitment to Team USA and bring consumers even closer to the Olympic Games,” said Jeff Diskin, Hilton Worldwide’s senior vice president, global marketing.
The USOC plans to erect a stage in Times Square near the red staircase that holds TKTS booth. There will be an emcee directing passers-by to sports stations that the USOC plans. There will be a BMX ramp, a volleyball court and a basketball court.
There also will be sponsor-branded activity stations such as the Samsung Endurance station where visitors can test their stamina on stationary bikes and the TD Ameritrade Precision station where guests can test their skill at a video-game simulation of rifle target practice.
“This is a great way to bring a piece of the Olympic Village in London and plop it down in Times Square,” Baird said. “It’s an opportunity to really touch and impact a lot of people.”
The USOC hired Michael Alan Group to produce the event.