NBC to Produce Four Daily Tokyo 2020 Olympics Shows for Snapchat (EXCLUSIVE)

Todd Spangler

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NBC is again turning to Snapchat as part of monetizing its Olympics media rights — coveting the app’s millions of millennials and Gen Z users.

NBC Olympics and Snap inked a renewed pact to present coverage of the XXXII Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo, as well as the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, to Snapchat users in the U.S. It’s the third Olympics the two companies have teamed on, following the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio and the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

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The 2020 Olympics partnership encompasses four daily original Snapchat Shows produced by NBC, exclusively for the platform in vertical-video orientation. Those include — for the first time — two highlights shows that will be updated in “near real-time,” according to the companies. Overall, NBC plans to produce more than 70 episodes for Snapchat, more than three times the 2018 Winter Games. Snap also will curate daily Our Story coverage for the Tokyo Olympics leading up to and during the games this summer (which run July 24-Aug. 9).

In 2018, over 40 million unique viewers in the U.S. watched NBC Olympics content for the Winter Games, up more than 25% from the 2016 Rio Olympics. Significantly for NBC, of those 40-plus million, 90% were under the age of 35. With a greater bucket of Olympics content set to splash across Snapchat this summer, execs are hoping viewing — and ad dollars — will be even higher.

“Snap is a very influential platform,” NBC Olympics president Gary Zenkel said. “They have a large and young audience that we want to reach, and we also want to offer our advertisers a way to reach [that audience].”

NBC Olympics will be the exclusive seller of all ad inventory for the custom programming on Snapchat. Zenkel declined to quantify the revenue opportunity through the Snap deal — though it’s likely just a drop in the bucket of the more than $1.2 billion in national advertising revenue NBCUniversal said it expects to generate from its coverage of the Tokyo Summer Games.

But increasingly, Zenkel said, internet and social media platforms are yielding real money, in addition to serving to promote tune-in on NBC’s TV networks and streaming services. “Historically, it was a marketing exercise” to produce content for digital outlets, Zenkel said. “That is absolutely the goal of this relationship too. But we are also going to monetize those impressions.”

According to Snap, on average 210 million people used Snapchat daily in the third quarter of 2019, spending an average of around 30 minutes per day on the app. In the U.S., the company claims Snapchat reaches 90% of all 13- to 24-year-olds and 75% of those 13-34.

“There’s an entertainment aspect, a sports aspect and a news aspect to the Olympics – it’s like almost like no other event,” said Sean Mills, Snap’s head of content. “This is big because it expands on what we’ve done in the previous two Olympics… We’ve never had this level of coverage.”

The NBC-produced four daily Snapchat Shows are:

  • A highlights/recap show comprising NBC Sports broadcast footage and editorialized captions (premiering June 2020)
  • A single Olympic event highlights show that will be updated in near real time and will feature HD clips of the biggest event happening that day from the U.S. Olympic Team Trials and Tokyo Games (premiering June 2020)
  • A daily NBC Olympics hosted studio show focused on storylines, memes, trends and culture around the Tokyo Games (premiering July 2020)
  • “Chasing Gold,” a reprise of the series profiling Team USA athletes competing in the Summer Games (premiering July 2020)

“We’re producing and distributing more content on Snapchat than we’ve done in the past,” Zenkel said. “As their product has evolved, our level of comfort increases.”

NBC has inked a similar deal with Twitter, which will carry Olympics content including an exclusive 20-minute live daily studio show from Tokyo.

In addition to the Snapchat Shows, Snap will curate daily Our Stories during the Tokyo Games and event coverage during the U.S. Olympic Team Trials from Olympic photo and video content generated by fans, Team USA athletes, journalists and influencers, as well as behind-the-scenes content from NBC. Beyond the Olympic competitions, Snapchat’s Our Stories will look to capture things like life in the Olympic Village and highlight Tokyo’s food, music, art and nightlife. Our Stories are comprised of Snaps that users submit to their public Our Story, which Snapchat producers then edit into one story and add graphics and text to provide additional context.

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