SBJ/January 21-27, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Rob Simmelkjaer, SVP, NBC Sports Ventures

Rob Simmelkjaer is a unique sports business executive who stays behind the scenes and cuts deals for NBC Sports Group while also being out in front and hosting television and radio shows for the company. Simmelkjaer joined NBC Sports Group as senior vice president of NBC Sports Ventures in the fall of 2011 after a 10-year stint at ESPN. He oversees NBC Sports’ radio, action sports and international investments.

Photo by: NBC SPORTS
Social media is really not that complicated. It’s a new way for people to do what they’ve been doing since we lived in caves, which is sit around and talk to each other. Now we have the opportunity to have instantaneous conversations with an incredibly broad and wide set of people all around the world.


On radio in 2013?:
We don’t think of it as radio in the traditional sense. We think of it as audio entertainment. It is an opportunity to reach fans when their eyes are otherwise occupied: They’re at work, driving, walking down the street. We’re planning to roll out later this year an extensive digital platform. The network is already being streamed online. We also will be rolling out an app and on-demand audio content. This is a digital play as much as it’s a terrestrial radio play.

On standing out in sports media: Three things — live events, news and information, and storytelling — are going to be what draw large audiences to every platform. Events clearly are a difference maker and will bring large and diverse audiences to our networks week in and week out. Secondly, news and information is crucial. Third is storytelling, which is a huge part of what brings people to sports media. Look at the Olympics. NBC has created a way of presenting the Olympics that is driven by storytelling.

On covering league partners: Leagues have understood the fact that their partners have a duty to their viewers and to the journalists in their organizations to tell stories as they see them — to engage in legitimate journalism. There’s no question in my mind that you can do both of those things at one time. ESPN has had a long track record of storytelling and hard-hitting journalism. NBC has done the same.

On industry trends: I’m watching the continued diversification of the audience that we see for sports entertainment in the United States. This is a country that’s becoming more and more diverse, which is going to have real ramifications for live event rights.

On being on-air: I love doing business deals as a lawyer. [But] being on the air and being a part of the storytelling and the creativity of the people I get to work with on that side of the business … is hugely satisfying to me.

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