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Volume 21 No. 34
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Comcast plans to make the most of stage provided by Pyeongchang Winter Games

Comcast owns the multibillion-dollar broadcast rights to the Olympics through NBCUniversal, and invented a new Xfinity cable interface last year specifically designed for the Rio Games. But at the time, competitor AT&T owned the communications category with Team USA, so Comcast couldn’t really execute a proper marketing campaign.

That changed last December when AT&T and the U.S. Olympic Committee parted ways, knowing Comcast was in the wings. Now the cable provider plans a major presence heading into the Pyeongchang Winter Games.

“We absolutely want to use these partnerships to raise the favorability and awareness of the Comcast brand, especially around our role in delivering the Olympics to the United States, whether that be through our Xfinity services or through our NBC involvement,” said Matt Lederer, executive director of sports brand strategy.

In 2016, NBC and Comcast executives talked about their new XFinity X1 tool that integrated NBC streaming coverage with linear TV coverage, along with statistics and advanced search tools, but, as Lederer said, “We had some restrictions, because we had no USOC rights.”

Team Comcast

Jamie Anderson, snowboarding
Gus Kenworthy, freeskiing
Jessie Diggins, cross country skiing
Elana Meyers Taylor, bobsled
Hilary Knight, hockey
Red Gerard, snowboarding
Danelle Umstead, Paralympic alpine skiing
Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, hockey
Monique Lamoureux, hockey
Rico Roman, Paralympic sled hockey
Declan Farmer, Paralympic sled hockey
Torin Yater-Wallace, freeskiing
Joey Mantia, speedskating

The company believes its tool can dramatically enhance the Olympics experience by allowing viewers to search coverage by country, sport or athlete, and navigate to any streaming or linear option from the same screen.

To build on its USOC rights, Comcast has signed a blue-chip roster of athlete endorsers, including snowboarder Jamie Anderson, freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy and bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor. The team was selected to cover a range of sports — Comcast wanted at least one team member competing on every day of the Games. The list includes three Paralympians, including 2014 Sochi gold medalist and Iraq War veteran Rico Roman.

The athletes will be part of an extensive television commercial campaign, which will focus on improving the Comcast brand, demonstrating why the Olympics are better with the Xfinity X1 technology, and convincing customers in Comcast service areas to switch, Lederer said.

GMR helped vet and sign the athletes. Los Angeles-based ad agency 72andSunny did the creative work.

One week earlier, Comcast became a sponsor of U.S. Ski & Snowboard, giving it title rights to the FIS Ski World Cup weekend at Vermont’s Killington Resort from Nov. 25-26, a logo patch on ski team uniforms at 74 events and further branding at 10 domestic events.

Dan Barnett, chief commercial officer at U.S. Ski & Snowboard, said Comcast will lend crucial help to his efforts to connect athletes to fans. “They have a pretty aggressive promotional strategy, particularly since it’s so athlete-driven. They’ll use all that media might to bring the stories of athletes to Americans.”

Comcast is the official provider of internet, video distribution, wireless, home security and business services for Team USA through 2020.