01/29/18: NBC Sports CMO Jenny Storms talks opportunity for the network’s Super Bowl and Olympics coverage

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Good morning. It’s Monday January 29, 2018 and this is your first early morning Sports briefing.

As Super Bowl week opens to showcase the pageantry of the intersection between sports, media and brands, NBCU is injecting new levels of promotion into what will almost certainly turn out to be two of the most-watched events in television history next week with the Super Bowl on Sunday and then the start of the Winter Olympics on Feb. 8. The one-two punch marks the first time a network has carried both events since 1992.
 
Charged with making the most of the opportunity is Jenny Storms, CMO of NBC Sports Group, who takes charge as the company prepares to activate with plans that include running five minute-long spots on Super Bowl Sunday (as well as on Today during the week) focusing on Mikaela Shiffrin, Chloe Kim, Shaun White, Nathan Chen and Linsey Vonn, taking up media real estate valued at $20 million. In addition, Storms is leveraging psychographics as part of the marketing plan for the Winter Games, breaking down fandom for a personalized approach into groups that include Torchbearers, Stargazers, Purists, Heartstrings, Major League Americans and Highlight heroes.
 
Cynopsis Sports spoke with Storms about marketing’s Holy Grail and her plans for the events.
 
Storms on preparations: About a year and a half ago coming off of Rio, we sat down to map out our plans for two iconic events in culture across America that were colliding four days apart in the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics. Clearly, that needed an unprecedented plan. At the very highest levels, what was really important to us was to have a solid strategy and then be able to spend this time in execution mode for what we were trying to achieve. A lot of that strategy centered on trying to do things that we had never done before and represent that specialness of these two events being so close together. Each event is so different and so unique but both are iconic to culture. So we need to figure out how to bring them to life in a way that is relevant and authentic but also special and innovative given the circumstances.
 
On opportunity: We’ve turned it into the Holy Grail. From a marketer’s point of view, this is a dream. You wish for this kind of opportunity to have two properties of this stature and being able to be blessed to bringing them to life so close together. Over the last year and a half, we have pushed ourselves to think differently and that has been fun. Watching the entire NBCUniversal company come together around these two events has been incredible.
 
On tactics for the Super Bowl: Some of the things we’ve done differently than other years is that we started promotion the Super Bowl earlier than we ever have before. Right from the opening kickoff, we started integrating that message and wanted to make sure there was no doubt about where to find it. We started really integrating messages around Thanksgiving and bringing it to life even with off-sports programming in order to give a lot more promotional opportunities to the Super Bowl message and this is where this company really unleashes the power of NBCUniversal and includes an incredible collaboration with our stations in Boston and Philadelphia in order to share content, work together and build on stunts that are being implemented. The week before the Super Bowl, everything will then come to life.
 
On leveraging the Super Bowl to promote the Olympics: About a year ago, we sat down to figure out what we wanted to do. As a media company carrying the game, we absolutely knew we’d be running spots of course and focus on the storylines leading into the Olympics. But we really wanted to take it to the next level. About six months ago, we sat down in a brainstorm sessions and came up with the thinking about how to bring both the Super Bowl and Olympics to life in a very authentic way and ended up with the idea to produce Olympic Super Bowl commercials, something very different from producing a promo spot. Producing a Super Bowl commercial and really taking that seriously is a brand level budget with the resources and time dedicated for the shoots. So we produced five commercials – each 60 seconds long – around five athletes. Every single one of these stories is authentic to the athlete.
 
On psychographics: Starting with the right strategy means that we know who our Olympic consumers are and that we know what they value about their relationship with the Olympics along with how to find them and where to reach them. They are based their needs and behaviors instead of their demographics per se. So we broke it out in a way that showed how they connect with the Olympics and positions us in a way where we can speak to them uniquely with the type of content that resonates with them.
 
 
ON THE AIR

Speaking of the Super Bowl, this week will see NFL Network on-location providing 85 hours of live on-location coverage from Minneapolis. Overall, 48 on-air personalities with a combined 18 Super Bowl rings will be part of the roster with programming beginning today. Meanwhile, nightly editions of Super Bowl Prime will run Wednesday-Friday at 9p, in addition to live telecasts of Good Morning Football, NFL Total Access, Super Bowl Live and NFL Players Only, along with special Super Bowl-related programming such as NFL Playbook: Super Bowl LII and the premiere of The Timeline: The Helmet Catch, and more. Super Bowl Sunday, meanwhile, offers 11+ hours of live pregame and postgame coverage, starting at 9a with a special 8.5-hour edition of NFL GameDay Morning.
 
Jemele Hill announced plans to depart SC6 with Michael and Jemele in a move to take on new duties with ESPN that include being a writer for The Undefeated and an on-air commentator. Michael Smith will continue as host of SportsCenter. The pair will anchor their final SC6 together on Friday, Feb. 2. “There is an old adage that says, the heart wants what it wants,” said Hill. “I started at ESPN 11 years ago as a columnist and while I have worn many hats in the time since, my true love always has been writing, reporting and commentary. While I have grown in every way imaginable this last year on the 6 p.m. SportsCenter, deep down I knew it wasn’t my calling.”
 
In other talent news, beIN SPORTS will see Italian soccer star Christian Vieri join its crew starting today where he will contribute to both the Spanish and English broadcasts of beIN SPORTS’ weekly studio show, The Locker Room.
 
FOX Sports is partnering with the New York Racing Association and The Stronach Group to launch FOX Sports Saturday At The Races, a new live racing television program sponsored by Claiborne Farm. Running on FS2, the telecasts begin on Feb. 3 and continue over six Saturdays in February and March, culminating with a 3 ½ hour show on March 31 headlined by the Grade 1 Florida Derby.  Greg Wolf hosts with other personalities that include Paul LoDuca, Andy Serling, Maggie Wolfendale, Gabby Gaudet, Acacia Courtney, Richard Migliore and Michelle Yu.
 
Time is running out! Don’t miss out on the Cynopsis Sports Awards, once again honoring the best in the business in production, marketing, digital and more. Don’t miss out on our new categories for 2018, including: Awareness Campaign for a Social Good Initiative; Event of the Year for a Breakthrough Sport; League of the Year for a Breakthrough Sport; Live Coverage of a Breakthrough Sport; Reality Series; Shining Stars (individual); Shining Stars (team/company); and Social Good TV Special or Episode. Get your work in NOW by clicking here.
 
Officials from the Automobile Racing Club of America and MAVTV Motorsports Network announced that MAVTV will televise 12 ARCA Racing Series, presented by Menards, race events in 2018. 11 of the dozen will be live on MAVTV in 2018, which marks the second year of a three-year broadcast agreement with ARCA. Coverage plans include the first ever superspeedway event scheduled for live coverage on the MAVTV Motorsports Network from Michigan International Speedway on June 8 and lauched on April 7 from Nashville.
 
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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

PepsiCo, the NHLPA and NHL inked a multi-year extension of their North American partnership that will see PepsiCo maintain exclusive NHL North American rights in the non-alcoholic beverage, sports nutrition and savory snack categories. The deal sees PepsiCo maintain access to robust activation and heightened exclusivity around promotional opportunities. Enhanced strategic customer marketing and partnerships are an integral part of the agreement as well. During the 2018 season, Pepsi Zero Sugar will activate during the NHL Winter Classic and NHL Stadium Series. PepsiCo brands will continue to be integrated into NHL media assets, including NHL.com, NHL Network, SiriusXM NHL Network Radio, the NHL App and others, in addition to having strong presence around major League event platforms.
 
Kia Motors extended its partnership with the Australian Open for another five years, running to 2023. “It has been an incredible partnership for Kia Motors, fully aligned to the youthful spirit of our brand,” Byung Yun Park, Executive Vice President at Kia Motors Corporation, said. “We are excited to be part of the world’s most thrilling Grand Slam tennis tournament for another five years. I’d like to thank everyone at Tennis Australia and everyone involved in organizing this incredible event for their hard work in providing unforgettable experiences, every year.”
 
FOX Sports is adding Girls Inc. and Ticket to Dream Foundation to the network’s roster of non-profit organizations participating in FOX Sports Supports, the charitable branch of FOX Sports. FOX Sports will focus its charitable resources toward these two organizations through the 2019 calendar year in campaigns that span all FOX Sports assets and premier events.
 
 
DIGITAL & STREAMING

Twitter’s Super Bowl plans in Minneapolis will include the Twitter Lounge + Studio, a custom build out on Radio Row at Mall of America. Twitter will be shooting short form videos and creating custom content with NFL players, NFL Legends and celebrities during Super Bowl week starting tomorrow.
 
 
ESPORTS

Madden is getting a new play as Electronic Arts, ESPN, Disney XD and the NFL detailed plans for live, exclusive broadcasts for upcoming play. The deal marks ESPN’s first long-term, multi-event competitive gaming partnership with dealpoints that include ESPN2 broadcasting the Madden NFL 18 Club Championship Final on Feb. 1, live from the Super Bowl. In early February, Disney XD will air weekly broadcasts of the Madden NFL Ultimate League, featuring the 16 Madden players from around the world competing in a 13-week season ending at Madden Bowl at the 2018 NFL Draft in April. Beginning in April, ESPN2 will also broadcast an Ultimate League Episodic Series with content focusing on character and storylines running on Tuesdays at 9p.
 
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed league plans for an esports slate on Saturday during the 2018 NHL All-Star weekend. Speaking to the press, Bettman noted that the league was working with EA for the esports league, stating “Our goal is to unveil something before the end of the regular season, which would have a series of competitions using the EA Games, and we’ll have more details when we’re ready to launch.”
 
Overwatch League added more non-endemics to its payload, announcing that additions of T-Mobile and Sour Patch Kids candy to its lineup of sponsors. T-Mobile signed a multi-year agreement to become the official wireless provider of the Overwatch League in the United States. As a part of the agreement, the brand will be the exclusive title sponsor of the Overwatch League Regular Season MVP and Finals MVP awards. The SOUR PATCH KIDS brand will bring fans content that will air during the Overwatch League season-one livestream.
 

Coming off of a successful ELEAGUE Major: Boston event, ELEAGUE is now reportedly set to host another key Counter-Strike: Global Offensive event later this year. Dot esports writes that the ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier will launch on July 21 and feature eight of the best teams in the world battling for the crown. Once the group stage wraps up on July 25, the top four teams will then compete in the semifinal round on July 28 for a shot at the grand finals the following day in Atlanta. Meanwhile, the Boston event ended on a high note for ELEAGUE, as yesterday’s Grand Final topped 1.13 million concurrent viewers for the match, topping the all-time record for a single Twitch channel the league set last year. 

 
 
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ON THIS DAY in 1936: The first players are elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame with Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson getting the honors.
 
In the Know: In the movie Kingpin, who portrayed the villain, bowler Ernie McCracken? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
 
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Katarina Witt made an appearance in the 1998 suspense film starring Robert De Niro and Jean Reno. Answer: Ronin. Kudos: Phyllis McQuillan-MSG Networks/NY; Andrew Feingold-Fox News/NY; Marissa Sunio-Columbia University/NY; Sonia Durr-Carat/Atlanta; John Langermann-WINK-TV/WXCW-TV/Fort Myers; Bill Graff-beIN Sports/Miami; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Matt Sautter-WideOrbit/Harrisburg; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Mark Stulberger-Stully’s Broadcasting School/Houston; Matt Fumagalli-Levy/Chicago; Paul Ihander-Bonneville Media/Phoenix; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Judie Henninger-Valentine Productions Inc./Santa Monica; Steve Bradbury-Deep Sports/LA; Jeff Mirkin-Atari Media Productions/Santa Monica
 
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