The weeks before the start of the 2020 Olympics were supposed to be the pivotal period for marketing of NBCUniversal’s Peacock, which debuted last July. As with so many plans, the Tokyo Games’ postponement due to Covid-19 threw a major wrench into the streaming platform’s national rollout.
Now, six months away from the rescheduled Olympics, NBCU chairman of television and streaming Mark Lazarus said Peacock is ready for the 17 days of action. Already, the recently-acquired sitcom The Office is already giving the platform a big boost this year, and is currently its “most-viewed” title.
“While the Olympics was supposed to be a calling card this past summer, we’re excited that the Olympics are coming up this year,” Lazarus said during NATPE (National Association of Television Program Executives) Virtual Miami on Tuesday. “It was so disappointing when we had to push it last year. But the excitement of now having it this year, and with Peacock being at cruising altitude, with NBC broadcast network as the centerpiece, I think it’s really going to be an exciting time.”
Lazarus described rights to the Olympics as the “gold standard” of NBCU’s sports portfolio. The sports group’s holdings also include rights to the NFL, the NHL, the Premier League, NASCAR and the PGA Tour. “We’ve spent a lot of time and money securing sports rights, and more and more, we’re securing those rights to have flexibility across multiple platforms,” he said. “We have the rights to put [the Olympics] on any platform at any time, and that platform doesn’t even have to be invented yet.”
NBCU has the domestic broadcast rights to the Olympics through 2032. Lazarus mentioned how important it is for the company to continue monitoring how consumer behavior changes over the intervening months. “Those are the kinds of discussions we have with sports leagues and I think it’s important for all of us… to make sure that we are the place that fans have to come through in order to find their sports,” he said.
When the Olympics were first delayed in March 2020, it left NBCUniversal with a $1.25 billion ad revenue hole for that year. Fast-forward ten months later, the NBC Sports Group is hoping to beat last-year’s already record-breaking ad-revenue.
The company said last week it had created an Olympics Ad Engine, which is designed to use past spots and data to create more effective ads for the Summer Games. NBCUniversal Insights and Measurement team looked at 671 ads from the past two Olympics, tagging 897 ad elements and building 540 models. And while NBCU hasn’t given too many details on Olympic ad sales since last year’s postponement, Dan Lovinger, evp, ad sales, NBC Sports Group, told reporters last week to expect an update in “early February.”
While NBC will be the center of Olympic coverage for the company, Lazarus described the cable nets and Peacock as a “complement” for content, noting that the broadcast network cannot provide 24-7 coverage. “We will use Peacock in an extraordinary way, and give people some exclusive content on Peacock that they won’t have access to otherwise,” he said. “We think that’s an important element of what Peacock can be and should be.”
Even outside of sports, Peacock is having a great 2021. That’s mostly thanks to The Office’s Jan. 1 arrival on the streaming service, after the sitcom departed its longtime streaming home, Netflix. Lazarus said the sitcom is currently the “most-viewed” title on Peacock, even though only the first two seasons are available on its free tier.