As the 13th season of "Sunday Night Football" draws near, NBC is revving up its NFL promotional efforts with a new campaign set to bow during its broadcast of one of the summer's biggest auto races.
Fans tuning in to the Nascar Coke Zero Sugar 400 on Saturday will get a first look at NBC's "All Eyes On" initiative, an in-house effort designed to prime the pump for the 2018 NFL season. Clocking in at 30 seconds, the first spot features the likes of Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and Devin McCourty as they exhort their teammates to put on a show for TV's biggest primetime audience.
In a series of cuts that flit between various pre-game huddles and gladiatorial tunnel exits, the spot demonstrates how players feed off the hype of appearing in the marquee Sunday night broadcast window. McCourty is particularly voluble as he looks to fire up the rest of the Patriots' defensive secondary; a few beats after belting out the title of the program, the veteran free safety brings it all home with the reminder that Sunday nights are "when people come alive" because "everybody [sic] watching!"
Along with getting fans primed for the upcoming NFL season, the new spot serves as a reminder that the players themselves are keenly aware of the significance of playing under the Sunday night lights. Shortly after Raiders offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele advises his cohorts that NBC's primetime showcase is where reputations are forged, Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham growls, "'Sunday Night Football,' man—you ought to be already hyped!"
The understanding that the nation's attention is riveted to NBC on Sunday nights goes a long way toward explaining why so many memorable moments seem to play out during the network's primetime showcase. "Performance often seems like a product of the fact that it's the biggest game," says Joseph Lee, senior VP of brand and content services, NBC Sports Group. "All NFL players want to be great in front of their peers."
If it's difficult to qualify that assertion, there's no question that "Sunday Night Football" has been a stage for some of the most unforgettable on-field developments of the past several years. Perhaps Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. wasn't aware that 22.4 million people were busy picking their jaws up off the floor after he made his Newtonian-physics-defying two-finger touchdown grab against Dallas back in November 2014, but everyone who saw the play unfold in real time remembers they were watching NBC at the time. (The awestruck, near-giddy commentary from the normally unflappable broadcaster Al Michaels remains nearly as memorable as the Catch itself: "There's your play of the year and maybe, I don't know, the decade!")
Set to premiere at around 7:40 p.m. EDT, the promo is expected to air as many as three times during NBC's coverage of Saturday's Coke Zero event, thereby ensuring the greatest number of possible impressions. NBC's first Nascar broadcast of the season tends to draw a crowd; last year the Daytona race averaged 5.42 million viewers (1.45 million of whom were members of the adults 18-to-49 demo) and a 3.2 household rating.
The "All Eyes On" campaign will evolve throughout the NFL season, and the next executions are expected to appear in August. Once the season begins in earnest, subsequent spots will be keyed to the various storylines and intrigues surrounding the upcoming "Sunday Night Football" match-ups. For example, fans can expect NBC to make quite a fuss in the run-up to the Nov. 4 Packers-Patriots showdown, which marks an historic meeting between the all-time greats Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. (The two signal callers have clashed only once in their storied careers, with Rodgers and the Packers enjoying a 26-21 edge over the Pats back in 2014.)
While the Brady-Rodgers clash promises to deliver staggering ratings, this season's "Sunday Night Football" slate is loaded with promising games. Among the scheduled contests that should make for particularly compelling fodder for the "All Eyes On" campaign are the Sept. 16 Giants-Cowboys grudge match, the Oct. 28 Saints-Vikings bruiser and the Cowboys-Eagles collision on Nov. 11.
NBC's coverage of the 2018 regular season kicks off Thursday, Sept. 6 as the Atlanta Falcons swoop into Philadelphia to do avian battle with the defensing Super Bowl champion Eagles. Following the annual NFL Kickoff game, the year's first "Sunday Night Football" pairing (Sept. 9) features an NFC North bone-rattler between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers.