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Volume 21 No. 2
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NBC Sports’ John Miller: Why Derby and Olympics skew female

NBC Sports earned a 9.7 rating and drew 16.2 million viewers for last year’s race broadcast of the Kentucky Derby. The network said that 52 percent of the viewers were women, making it the only annual sporting event that draws more female viewers than male viewers.

Miller: “A unified, family experience.”

NBC Sports Group Chief Marketing Officer John Miller talked to SportsBusiness Journal recently about how he approaches marketing sports programming to the female audience.

“There are two sports that I’m familiar with that actually skew female,” he said. “One is the Kentucky Derby, and that’s largely based on fashion and hats and mint juleps and lifestyle and the coming of spring and the parties that transcend traditional, competitive sports. The second one is the Olympics, which is far more about the journey. It’s less about the result. And we find women are far more captivated by the journey and how people overcome things and their individual stories and the fact that they might have trained a lifetime for seconds of competition. As a result of that, you promote the Olympics a little bit differently than some of the other sports. It’s far more about storytelling. It’s far more about overcoming adversity.

“How do you engage a female audience? I believe you create a unified, family experience, and make it appealing for women to watch. With the NFL, it has been the growth of women playing fantasy sports. With NASCAR, it’s about character. In the case of hockey, I’m sort of still looking, to be honest with you. But with the Olympics and the Kentucky Derby, you look for those triggers that really pull to the heartstrings and focus on those.”

— Staff report