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In a bid to drive younger audiences toward watching the Tokyo Games on its streaming platform Peacock, NBCUniversal is counting on a boost from official partnerships with social media companies Snapchat, Twitch and Twitter.
NBC has partnered with Snapchat to create a slate of five original programs, as well as augmented reality lenses, to bring Olympic diehard viewers and casual fans closer to the event. In addition to a reprise of Chasing Gold, a show produced by NBC for Snap that profiles Team USA athletes, Snapchatters will get original programming that includes a daily studio show hosted by Jacques Slade, NBC Olympics ICYMI, and another program, NBC Olympics IRL, that highlights the best social clips and user-generated content from fans following along from home. There will also be three original shows — two of which are daily highlights shows in India and Mexico — from the International Olympic Committee.
“Our goal is to find the most compelling storylines and make sure that we tell it in a fun, highly engaging way that resonates with our young audience,” Anmol Malhotra, Snap’s head of sports partnerships, tells The Hollywood Reporter.
Snap has previously partnered with NBC. For the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Snap said it reached more than 44 million users in the U.S. Based on data collected from December 2020 to January 2021, the company reported that 87 million Snapchatters watch sports content each month, out of a total of 500 million monthly users. The social offerings aren’t meant to replace what’s available on NBC’s broadcast. “Our shows are three to five minutes in length. They’re shorter-form, high energy. It’s meant to be complementary to the TV experience,” Malhotra says.
Having Olympics content easily available on social can help reach casual users who might not tune in to watch the Games on TV, says Lyndsay Signor, senior vp marketing at NBC Sports. NBC is also planning a #WatchWithUS campaign on social media to create calls to action for fans to submit photos and videos or otherwise engage with the Olympics online. “Our approach really is about fishing where the fish are,” Signor says. “What’s cool about the Olympics is it’s such a massive audience that we really are able to try to uncover every fan we can [and] try to customize content for every platform and audience.”
To that end, NBC has also partnered with Twitter and Twitch to deliver interactive content to fans on social media. On Twitter, which has 199 million daily active users, viewers can follow @NBCOlympics to watch a 20-minute original studio program on every day of the Games that will include highlights and athlete interviews, as well as a daily live look-in at NBC’s primetime coverage, where Twitter users will get to cast their votes on polls about which athlete, sport or key moment they want to see.
On Twitch, which has 30 million daily visitors, three teams of creators will compete in a daily competition of Olympic-themed games and win medals throughout the 17-day Tokyo Olympics; at the end, the team with the most medals will be crowned gold. Users will also be able to participate in polls, live AMAs and live discussions about the primetime broadcast.
If you’ve noticed a playing-to-the-audience theme in interactive programming, that’s the point. Malhotra says the ban on spectators in Tokyo has given Snap “an opportunity” to better serve Olympic fans — many of whom wouldn’t have been able to go to Tokyo to watch the Games, even if they were allowed. Snap’s tech offerings, especially with its AR lenses and camera marketing tools, give Snap users a way to, as Malhotra says, “feel like they’re part of the event and really bring the experience to them when they can’t actually physically be there.”
A version of this story first appeared in the July 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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