To Market the Winter Olympics, NBC Gets Niche

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NBC Universal will air spots starting Wednesday across its networks and platforms to promote the start of the PyeongChang Olympics 100 days later.

NBC Universal is going small for what might be the broadest and most universally appealing TV event. The peacock is targeting its marketing approach to the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea to different pscyhographics.

The peacock is putting Olympic viewers into six such segments—including those drawn to the games for the athletes' heartfelt stories and those who only watch the highlights—and is creating content specifically geared toward each type of viewer.

"We are getting deeper into the mindset and motivations of Olympic viewers … we are not looking at demographics, but leaning more toward psychographics," says Jenny Storms, CMO, NBC Sports Group.

NBC has struggled with its linear ratings for the Olympics. After making bullish predictions regarding viewership of the 2016 Summer Games in Rio, the media giant found it hadn't fully accounted for the rapid change in TV viewership habits. Ratings were lower than expected as more viewers watched online. NBC Universal did say it generated a record $250 million profit on its coverge of the Rio games.

As the peacock grapples with finding audiences, especially younger ones, no matter where they're watching, and delivering those people to advertisers, it will look to attract viewers with marketing that's less about appealing to a certain generation. Rather, it's hoping to reach viewers based upon how they connect to the Olympics, whether they are "Purists," in that they watch the games for the actual competition or "Major League Americans," who tune in to demonstrate their national pride.

When it comes to the audience segments, millennials don't fall into one specific category, Storms says, but she was surprised to see that "Torchbearers," which NBC defines as a segment that "loves everything about the Olympics," skewed younger than all of the other groups.

NBC will double the amount of promo material it's creating for the games. Last weekend, for example, NBCU aired about a dozen or so pieces of Olympic content across its broadcast and cable networks. In comparison, during the same time last year it aired about four pieces of content, Storms says.

NBCU plans to air about 7,200 spots for the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, compared to the 5,500 spots it ran during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Ultimately, Storm believes the more relevant the content promoting the games, the bigger the audience who will tune in to watch.

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