Back to News


NBC’s Strategic Plan for Marketing the 2018 Winter Olympics

Comments  /  Megan Olson

The 2018 Winter Olympics were in full swing this weekend, but well before the Opening Ceremony, NBC made a variety of strategic moves to reach Olympics viewers across multiple platforms. With 2,400 hours of coverage over 18 days and a 14 hour delay in broadcast, NBC had to get creative to draw viewers. So, what did NBC do to make the Winter Olympics a “must-see” event?

First, NBC leveraged all available assets to offer multi-platform viewing options. Viewers could watch events on local NBC affiliates, as well as NBCU-owned cable networks, CNBC, USA Network and NBCSN. Every event could be live-streamed at no charge through services such as DirecTV Now, Hulu Live, Playstation Vue, Sling TV and YouTube TV. NBC also offered paid streaming options on demand via and the NBC Sports Mobile app.

Preceding the Olympics, NBC aired a variety of promos during the Super Bowl, featuring stand-out Olympics hopefuls. The first network to have the Super Bowl and the Olympics since 1992, NBC took advantage of the timing and used one of the most watched TV broadcasts of the year to promote the games, reaching 103.4M viewers (Nielsen).

Recognizing the power of video, NBC’s Olympics division inked a deal with TV provider, BrightLine, to create interactive video units highlighting Lindsey Vonn, Shaun White, Mikaela Shiffrin, Nathan Chen and Gus Kenworthy. Promos aired on NBC Sports, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Android and Apple devices, and viewers could use their remote to access information about each athlete with the click of a button. This effort to provide more meaningful content was intended to increase engagement and drive younger audiences.

On the social media front, NBC partnered with Snapchat to stream live video, shot by NBC’s Olympics team. With daily video updates and NBC-produced Olympics content in the Discover section of the app, Snapchat harnessed the power of the Olympics to test streaming video. Although Snap users needed to opt-in to see the videos, they would not see ads during the launch. NBC’s goal was to offer unique content in Snap’s distinctive vertical video format to engage younger video viewers. They also sold 6-sec. Snapchat ads during the Olympics to cross-promote.

In an innovative move, NBC also partnered with Peleton to live stream spin classes from the NBC Olympics broadcast center in PyeongChang. A minority partner in Peleton, NBC planned to feature Olympics hosts Willie Geist and Dylan Dreyer, alongside instructor Robin Arzon. Peleton cross-promoted the Olympics, utilizing its own family of cyclists to reach people on as many screens as possible.

Kudos to NBC for finding unique ways to broaden its Winter Olympics appeal, engaging viewers across multiple platforms. And, while TV ratings for the Opening Ceremony were down 11% from Sochi’s opening night, NBC’s ad sales eclipsed $900M – a record for the Winter Olympics. How will you watch the Olympics this February?