While NBC was gearing up for the Rio Olympics it faced a grim reality: there were significantly less people across the US with cable in their homes than there were in 2012 when the London Olympics aired (56 million in 2012 vs 49 million in 2016). In order to mitigate this loss of traditional viewers, NBC made a push to capture millennials with live-streaming of Olympics coverage.
"To reach the younger audience, we all know that we have to reach into the social sphere," NBC Olympics President, Gary Zenkel, told reporters in July as reported in Adweek. "We also know that if we're going to do it effectively, we've got to do it with a sensibility designed to engage that audience."
To combat the drastically changing behaviors in media consumption, NBC Olympics CMO, John Miller, aimed to make this “the most social games ever” in order to better target millennials. To do this, NBC deployed live-streaming services through every major social media platform (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram) for the first time in Olympic History. With 32 Venues at the Olympic Games which often hold simultaneous events, NBC took on the wildly ambitious task of coordinating 24/7 digital coverage of all events. Furthermore, NBC utilized Snapchat to include takeovers with Olympians, so the general public can see the behind-the-scenes life of an Olympic athlete.
NBC has been using an official Facebook Page, NBC Olympics, to aggregate content from the games including multiple daily live streams, produced video segments, highlights, fun content like this clip of Zac Efron meeting Simone Biles in Rio.
So what is NBC's end game? It's hope is that by providing more access and coverage of live events at the Olympics it will increase the hype around the event, thus bringing millions back to their TV sets or VOD programming. If you look at data from the London games, you actually can see that as users watch on multiple devices, their time spent consuming content increases exponentially. Comcast subscribers have had the best Olympics viewing so far on it's X1 Platform showcased in the following video.
The question is now: when will networks begin to see that television ratings are becoming less important in this increasingly digital world?