NBC utilizes stable of RSNs to promote Olympic coverage, story lines

They may not have the rights to show Olympic action, or even extensive highlights. But NBC Sports Group’s stable of regional sports networks are an important part of NBC’s Olympic coverage, said NBC Sports Group President Jon Litner.

This is the first Olympics that the Comcast SportsNet RSNs are part of NBC Sports Group, and Litner said NBC is using them to further its overall strategy around big events.
“We’re marshaling all of NBC’s assets and all of NBC’s resources together to take big events that are franchise events and make them bigger and create greater awareness around them,” Litner said. “We are creating more marketing and promotion leading into the events, and to the extent that you have a great storyline, really pay that story line off.”

NBC Sports Group used this strategy during the Stanley Cup and U.S. Open and has plans to use it during the America’s Cup and Ryder Cup later this year.

“When there’s a big event in one of our markets, we can really line up all these resources on the content side — the RSNs, the local-owned station, the national platforms,” Litner said. “With rights holders like America’s Cup or PGA Tour or the USGA or IOC and USOC, they have events we can make even bigger and really serve our viewers across our platforms a lot stronger.”

For the Olympics, that means that Comcast SportsNet has run Olympic promos in June and Olympic athlete promos in July. During the Olympics, three faces from the RSNs — Philadelphia’s Marshall Harris, New England’s Carolyn Manno and Bay Area’s Jim Kozimor — are in London to cover the Games. So, too, is Golf Channel’s Kelly Tilghman, who is an MSNBC host.

The RSNs news desks also is helping further this big-event strategy, Litner said. He pointed to the release of the report on the Penn State scandal by former FBI director Louis Freeh. NBC Sports Network wound up using the feed from CSN Philly.

“Because we have feet on the ground in these regional markets, we’re able to tap into that and they’re able to become bureaus for the NBC Sports Network,” Litner said. “That’s a small example, but it’s an important example. Then you have big events. Every time we do it, we learn something. We get better at it. But we’re getting very good very quickly.”

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