In Marketing, Media

Winning at olympic games, hand holding gold medals

Are Millennials watching the 2016 Rio Olympics? You bet. But not in the way you think.

These Olympics are the most viewed events on traditional television right now, but Millennials aren’t watching them the way past viewers did. And NBC made a smart move to capture this Holy Grail of audiences by offering them ways to consume the games that fit their lifestyle. And by making innovative moves to drive them towards real-time broadcasting.

NBC Olympics’ marketing team seems to be doing everything right when it comes to capturing the Millennial Generation’s attention of the 2016 Games. There was a lot of speculation around whether or not Millennials would be actively watching the games. After all, broadcasters have traditionally treated the Olympics as a television-only event. The problem here is that, as everyone knows, Millennials do not watch live television. They are the kings and queens of streaming and recording and of course keeping themselves up-to-date through social media.

NBC spent millions to get in front of these Millennials. They invested a substantial chunk of their marketing dollars in paying two dozen social media influencers (those with a substantial following) to cover the games on their preferred channels. These digital stars are dedicating their broadcasts to the Olympics across YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vine.

In addition NBC is doing social media updates through their own channels. For example, they have a dedicated Facebook page called NBC Olympics. The network also enlisted a team of 12 producers at BuzzFeed to put the Olympics on the NBC Rio Snapchat story. By the way, NBC acquired a $200 million stake in BuzzFeed last year.

On social media the games are on fire. These stories are told through video from people in the stands, videos from the athletes themselves as well as fans around the world who are participating from their own living rooms. Take a look at your Snapchat and notice how much of it is dominated by Olympic event stories from these sources. Popular events including: “Rio Gymnastics”, “Rio Basketball”, “Rio Swimming”…. And the list goes on.

These efforts have resonated with the full range of Millennials. Interestingly enough, younger Millennials are watching the live television versions as well as engaging on social. NBC has also allowed working Millennials in their 20s and 30s to stay abreast of the games without staying in to watch their favorite events on TV. They can catch up through social whenever they have the time. And, if NBC’s bet on social works, they might event plop themselves down in front of the TV. NBC Olympics Chief Marketing Officer John Miller says, “It’s not that we’re trying to ‘age-down’ the Olympics. It’s that we’re trying to get everyone in the household to watch the Olympics.”

NBC should be applauded for their coverage and marketing efforts at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Rio will be known as the most social Olympics to date. And NBC’s efforts on Snapchat especially look like they will win gold over other forms of coverage.

Danielle Murray heads the Millennial Principle team.

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