With the NHL regular season in the books and the Stanley Cup Playoffs set to launch on Wednesday, NBC Sports Group is moving quickly to drive interest and engagement for its lineup of games through June, with its campaign, “There Is Nothing Like Playoff Hockey.” Coverage could include as many as 105 playoff contests and possibly more than 260 hours of programming across NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, and USA Network (along with NHL Network).
This year will see a strategic shift in marketing strategy under the eye of NBC Sports CMO Jenny Storms, who lined up the company’s largest on and off-channel media plan ever for the event, leveraging targeted paid advertising that will include ads on non NBCU cable networks, YouTube, etc.. In addition, specific TV spots are being built for each market of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, featuring the local TV/Radio voice calling teams in markets and players on those teams, as well as a push for fans in major sports markets that are not in the playoffs under that banner. Cynopsis Sports spoke with Storms about the plan of action, the role of the RSNs, and what we can expect for the postseason.
Storms on the postseason campaign: This year will see the largest media plan we have ever put into place for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, including the most robust off-channel media in history. In the past, we have done a number of stunts such as food deliveries, etc. But now, because it is so important for us to continue to understand and monitor consumption and consumer behaviors, we are changing that strategy because people move very quickly. Attentions spans are now shorter and mobile is getting into the space much more heavily. When you look at that combination, we have to adjust our sails and make sure we are still reaching the right destination which means much more targeted national as well as local media. We want to be able to intercept people at appropriate moments and get them to that next games or series. We have to be able to get into their social feeds when there is an overtime when so they know when Game 2 is. So that plan has changed to use social and television more to be very relevant and authentic at appropriate times with the right content.
On the theme: The beauty of our plan is how we are bringing the overall story together. One of the themes that you will see throughout the campaign right now is the iconic trophy because at the end of the day, that passion and emotion – whether your team is in or out – will resonate as the players compete for that Cup. When you look at the spot, Anthem, it really brings that to life. The other pieces come in by getting into the local heartbeat and connect with the fans to talk with them uniquely. It is easy to take great content and push it out everywhere. What we are taking great pride in is how we are getting to the level of customization where we are speaking to Caps fans, Blackhawks fans, Wild fans, etc. and deliver a specific team experience that gives them something that they value.
On working with RSNs: This is where being in a family with regional sports networks can be really fun and extremely valuable to the consumers. You have the operational and content opportunity out of Stamford, where we are producing all of this robust content, but then you have CSN Mid-Atlantic and the Capitals, for example, with their ability to go in and speak directly to the local fans. That creates a great back-and-forth relationship where we are able to feed them content that they may not have the resources to be producing or developing, while they are able to provide us with local insights and information that also makes what we are doing even better. As a company, we can also collaborate in the non-linear space, social for example, where we can push and pull consumers.
On her run at NBC Sports: I am extraordinarily blessed to have joined such an amazing organization and it has certainly been a fun ride, especially with some of the properties they have here such as the Olympic Games. I feel strongly that it is less about being a marketing organization that is creating “marketing plans” and more about being a consumer engagement organization. We have been building the group and I believe that we are the chief architect of the consumer experience – now and in the future – and that means we have the responsibility to understand consumer insights and data and how to reach them by leveraging what they value about NBC Sports Group. I think that if we take that on as a team, we will be very successful in the future.