NBCUniversal deepens TikTok ties around uncertain Winter Olympics

Diving Brief:

  • NBCUniversal and TikTok have entered into an agreement to bring new content and ad experiences to the video-sharing app about the Winter Olympics and the 2022 Winter Olympics, according to details emailed to Marketing Dive. It is the first partnership formed by the solicitation process for social media platforms that NBCUniversal launched in November.
  • Under the deal, advertising partners with the network will be able to try new ad formats on TikTok. Details on what it looks like were scanty, but brands can benefit from NBC Olympics coverage as they compete to reach sports fans. NBCUniversal claims videos containing Olympic-related hashtags have had 18 billion views on TikTok so far.
  • The network will also produce daily content across many of its TikTok handles and broadcast three live-streamed episodes of coverage hosted by an influencer from the app. The live streams appear on the NBCOlympics TikTok handle and the NBC Olympics Hub website that collects trends and daily clips from accounts including NBCOlympics, NBCSports, ontheturf and Peacocktv.

Diving Insight:

NBCUniversal continues to adjust its strategy for the Olympics as sports viewing habits gravitate towards mobile and broadcast channels. The network has an established relationship with TikTok which helped expand its reach into last summer’s Tokyo Games. The NBCOlympics page saw its followers increase by nearly 350% around the event, even though it was also the first Olympic Games to happen during the modern TikTok era. The platform’s meteoric rise in the United States began after parent company ByteDance merged TikTok with sister app Musical.ly in 2018, and has accelerated in the shadow of the pandemic.

Now, NBCUniversal is looking to deepen its ties with a dominant social media player with strong influence over the kinds of young consumers who don’t stick with traditional TV. The streaming giant is improving the deal with a promise that marketing partners will be the first to test new TikTok ad experiences, though what it will look like isn’t entirely clear. TikTok and NBCUniversal have independently pushed innovation beyond live video placements, including through more robust business integrations.

Meanwhile, NBCUniversal is ramping up its coverage of the Olympics in-app, including through an Event Center that aggregates its various accounts and a livestream featuring behind-the-scenes coverage led by the TikTok creator (not mentioned in the ad). NBCUniversal said it is finalizing details of additional partnerships around gaming and continuing to work with other social platforms. The company has an enduring relationship with Twitter that spans across live Olympics broadcasts, highlights and pre-game content.

Double Tactics on mobile follows a rather bumpy execution around the Tokyo Games. Many viewers found the experience very fragmented, particularly when it came to accessing content on NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming platform. The event also had to contend with the ongoing epidemiological turmoil, which had already led to its year-long decline. Television ratings for the Tokyo Olympics are down 42% compared to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016 and hit the lowest levels of the Summer Games since NBC acquired the broadcast rights in 1988, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Of course, COVID-19 remains an obstacle, with the omicron variant playing the way of other sporting events. A separate report found that some brands are taking an eggshell approach, with political tensions across China making the Winter Games a controversial topic, while marketing has remained relatively flat.

The change in strategy extends far beyond TikTok. NBCUniversal will be piloting a new favorite measuring partner, iSpot.tv, for the Winter Games as well as the Super Bowl, on a break with the historic dependence on Nielsen. Advertising partners will receive real-time broadcast data from iSpot.tv for linear, streaming, and time-varying viewing, along with next-day reports summarizing verified ad impressions, reach and frequency, linear overlap, streaming and increment. Selected brands will also get access to impact-oriented measurement capabilities, including accurate attention and dropout rates, business results reports and creative performance evaluations.

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