Mike McCarley had an epiphany over Thanksgiving weekend in 2008. The NBC executive had just awakened at his in-laws’ house in Dayton, Ohio, and was half asleep as he poured himself a cup of coffee.
The “Today Show” was on in the background when he heard his mother-in-law imitating Al Roker giving the weather forecast for the upcoming “Sunday Night Football” game.
“If my mother-in-law knows about the Sunday night game, then there are people all across the country who aren’t big football fans that know about the game,” McCarley said.
The moment made an impression on McCarley, who developed a successful blueprint for broad-based marketing campaigns designed to attract non-sports fans to NBC’s biggest sporting events.
NBC’s ratings have been nothing short of spectacular during the time McCarley rolled out his marketing strategy. The result was a Super Bowl that set a viewership record (which has since been broken), the most-watched Kentucky Derby in 20 years, and the most-watched NHL game in 37 years.
In each case, McCarley worked closely with league partners to develop the campaigns. Maintaining those strong partnerships has been a priority for NBC Sports’ executive team for decades, and one McCarley takes seriously.
“He has taken on a much broader role in the industry, especially with our league partners and top advertisers, that has enabled him to become one of the most important executives in his field,” said NBC Universal Sports and Olympics Chairman Dick Ebersol.
It’s impossible to talk about McCarley without referencing Ebersol, the legendary sports TV executive who has brought McCarley into his trusted inner circle.
Ebersol refers to McCarley as “one of my closest confidants and most trusted advisers. … He is one of the few leaders that truly touches all areas of NBC Sports. He has been entrusted as a key steward of the NBC Sports brand that I hold very close to my heart.”
A key component of that brand is delivering large broadcast audiences through broad promotion. McCarley clearly has been successful achieving that goal over the last year.