London 2012: NBC, Facebook Strike Olympics Partnership

The collaboration will include the occasional use of a “Facebook Talk Meter” on TV to reflect online buzz.

LONDON - NBCUniversal’s NBC Olympics unit and Facebook have teamed up for the London 2012 Summer Olympics in a partnership that will include the occasional use of a “Facebook Talk Meter” on TV to reflect online buzz around what has been dubbed the first-ever social media Olympics.

Under the agreement, set to be announced Wednesday, users of the social network will this summer be reminded about NBC’s Olympics coverage, while TV viewers will be encouraged to talk about the Summer Games on Facebook, the New York Times reported.

It said that Facebook data will also inform TV coverage on NBC and NBCUniversal's cable networks in ways that will vary.

“We know that a social conversation will surround the Olympics,” said Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics. So, his team's goal is to listen and talk back. “Facebook has the attention of a large portion of the American audience,” particularly among younger demographics, he added.

The agreement, under which executives indicated no money was changing hands, acknowledges that TV viewers have increasingly used a second screen - whether a computer or mobile device.

Facebook's user base has also been on a growth track. In 2008, when the last Summer Olympics took place, Facebook had only 100 million users. That number has grown to an estimated 900 million.

Zenkel said the collaboration is part of NBC's "continuing efforts to reassemble the audience” that has fragmented in  recent decades, the Times said. Twitter is widely expected to also reach some kind of arrangement with NBC for the Olympics.

“It’s terrific exposure,” Andy Mitchell, who manages partnerships at Facebook, told the Times.

On Facebook, the NBC Olympics page will be updated with exclusive content for fans only, and viewers can let Facebook friends know that they are watching videos and reading articles on NBC’s Olympics web site.

U.K. broadcaster BBC and Facebook previously also announced a partnership around the Olympics, and the social network recently announced a big push to be part of the social media debate around the Games.

The Olympics kick off on July 27.


Twitter: @georgszalai

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