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Volume 20 No. 41
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How NBC RSNs got on same page for ‘Tomboy’

You might think that getting all of NBC Sports Group’s regional sports networks to cooperate around one program initiative would be easy. All it should take is a couple of phone calls from RSN President Ted Griggs, right?

But the amount of effort to get the RSNs to coordinate around “Tomboy” ­— a one-hour documentary on women in sports that launched last week — was more difficult than you might imagine. Produced by CSN Bay Area, the documentary launched in all of NBC Sports Group’s regions, complete with local marketing plans and symposiums to drive interest.

For NBC’s top executives, “Tomboy” offers a blueprint for how its RSNs will handle future rollouts.

“It wasn’t hard to convince them, but every market is handling things differently,” Griggs said. “This will be the beginning. We’re laying the groundwork for the regions to cooperate and produce content that we all share.”

The difficulties stemmed from the local nature of the RSNs — each one created its own local content to promote the documentary, including blog posts and vignettes. Griggs had to let the RSNs keep their local identity while pushing a national documentary.

The RSNs started releasing clips of the documentary on their websites up to six weeks before its debut.

“We call that ‘upside-down distribution,’” Griggs said. “We’re releasing pieces of the pie all the way up until the pie comes out.”

Some of the markets held advanced screenings. I attended one March 3 at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., which featured a lively panel session with USA Hockey’s Reagan Carey, Octagon’s Kelly Wolf and former Coolidge High School football coach Natalie Randolph, where one of the main themes looked at how much women’s sports have grown since the advent of Title IX.