NBC is counting on BuzzFeed and a slew of social influencers to get young viewers to tune into its coverage of the 2016 Rio Olympics.
As the exclusive broadcast partner for the Olympics, NBC plans to stream more than 4,500 hours of live content between Aug. 5 and 21. But those are just the games themselves. The company has also partnered with BuzzFeed and social influencers like Amanda Cerny and The Fine Brothers to create Olympics-related videos, which start rolling out across social platforms today.
“When we market the games, we sell it based on a household rating. And in order to get a household rating, you try to get as many old people as you can to watch,” said John Miller, CMO of NBC Olympics. This “ages up” most of the marketing NBC does to grab television viewers for its Olympics coverage, Miller added. But 12- to 34-year-olds are also a priority for the company, and it believes the best way to reach them is by enlisting the voices that they already listen to on a daily basis.
BuzzFeed and Snapchat
Announced in April, NBC will launch a pop-up Snapchat Discover channel during the Olympics. Instead of handling content for the channel itself, NBC has recruited a team of 12 producers from BuzzFeed’s video unit to create as much as 20 pieces of content per day for the channel. (NBCUniversal invested $200 million in BuzzFeed last August.)
While some of the content on the Discover channel will be highlights and other clips from NBC broadcasts, a lot of what BuzzFeed will be responsible for will be spotlighting — in the form of videos, articles, infographics and listicles — the activity around the games.
“It will be at times promotional in nature. We’ll talk to them about the stories that are really driving a lot of interest,” said Gary Zenkel, president of operations and strategy for the NBC Sports Group and president of NBC Olympics. “They may create something around a rivalry that will play out on a prime-time show — if that makes sense for them and the audience.”
In other words: NBC is entrusting full editorial control to BuzzFeed. While the company might “open doors” for the BuzzFeed production team, ultimately NBC is relying on BuzzFeed’s expertise on Snapchat to create engaging content.
The wider social web
In addition, to Snapchat Discover, BuzzFeed is currently creating Olympics-related videos for its own social accounts. For instance, NBC invited BuzzFeed producers to an event where they were able to interview 125 Olympians. Videos created at this event, as well as other BuzzFeed-produced Olympics content, will roll out on BuzzFeed’s social accounts in the week leading up to the games — with the understanding that BuzzFeed teases the games on NBC.
But it’s not just BuzzFeed’s expertise that NBC is looking to take advantage of. The company has also partnered with dozens of social influencers spanning the lifestyle, comedy, fashion, beauty, fitness and food verticals. These influencers, who have a combined reach of 120 million followers across platforms, will create promotional videos in advance of the games. They, too, have been given a fair amount of creative freedom with just one major request: to mention at the end of the videos that the Olympics, which are only viewable on NBC, begin on Aug. 5. “I’m mostly focused on getting people in the door for the opening ceremonies, because if that happens, there tends to be a social explosion that follows,” said Miller.
This group of influencers, which includes YouTube royalty like The Fine Brothers, iJustine and Flula, will also participate in the first-ever “Social Media Opening Ceremony.” Content from the event, which will be hosted in Los Angeles by Ryan Seacrest, will be posted on the NBC Olympics social handles as well as on the influencers’ accounts.
“At the end of the day, our success will be based upon how much people watch the Olympics and how broad that audience is,” said Zenkel. “So we’re certainly hoping that the work they undertake to tell Olympic stories and expose them to an audience in a place where they are most effective will yield more viewing.”
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