Wednesday, June 23, 2021
THE MODERATOR: Good morning. Thank you all for being here today. It’s really nice to have everybody in person for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic last March. We appreciate also those who are joining us live virtually. We’re 30 days out from the Opening Ceremony. We’re pleased to have NBCUniversal and NBC Sports executives and our special guests here today. We’ll have a full update on what are our most ambitious plans ever for the Tokyo Olympic Games. We have five panels and presentations followed by Q&A. If you have any follow-up questions, please see me or any member of our Communications team.
First, let me introduce our primetime Olympics host, Mike Tirico.
MIKE TIRICO: Hello, everyone. Great to see so many familiar faces one more time as we are finally here. We did one year out from the Tokyo games, twice, but this is the real deal. For those of us of a certain age, when the space shuttle missions were first starting, you get to that threshold, and they’d stop the countdown, and you’d wait again. This feels like we are ready to launch and ready to go. You’ll hear some operational and editorial parts of that over the next hour.
I spent the last week in Omaha, Nebraska, at the Swim Trials. I can tell you that the athletes from Team USA are absolutely ready to go. We’ve seen that around the country.
I didn’t think I’d be waking up at 4:00 AM to watch the Australian swim trials in Adelaide. That’s what I was doing in Omaha. It was the same vibe there. I think we saw it with the Track and Field trials over the last couple of days.
The athletes are so primed and ready to get this going. After all, your Olympic plan is a four-year monster. You lay it out, then you get there. It’s really hard to restart that operation when it comes to a crashing halt, as it did for so many of these athletes.
But they’ve restarted it. Watching the competition in the pool, some athletes couldn’t hang on that extra year, but a lot of new faces and young faces came to the forefront. I think we’re going to see a new transition to the next generation of stars, which we’ve seen already in Trials. We’ll continue to over the next week or so.
For me, this is a thrill. I grew up watching Jim McKay and Bob Costas do this. The opportunity in Pyeongchang was exciting. Now, I feel like an old veteran; I’ve got a couple Olympics under my belt. I’ve prepared for Tokyo for about three years. We are ready to get this thing on the road and get on the plane.
We have a lot to share with you. Our executives will be up here in just a moment, Pete Bevacqua, Mark Lazarus, and Jeff Shell. Before we start, one more video to set the tone and the table for what will be- we think- in Tokyo the greatest show.
Jeff, Mark and Pete will join us up here. Good morning, great to see you guys.
Jeff for you, your first Olympics as CEO of NBCUniversal. What does it mean to you as we get to the one-month-out landmark?
JEFF SHELL: So exciting watching it. I’ve seen that video, I don’t know who did it but the video is fantastic.
So my colleagues may not even know this, but I was a 1984 volunteer flag raiser at the Olympics. I was one of the guys in the white Eisenhower coats that raised the flags when they played the national anthems during the medal ceremonies. That was as an unpaid intern.
The Olympics have been a big part of my life. There just couldn’t be anything better than being in this job in this company at this moment, with you and the team that does these things.
First of all, I’m personally one of these people that thinks the Olympics is an important thing for the world. Every four years it feels like there’s something bad going on, there’s some vitriol. This year feels particularly unique; the whole world is coming off a global trauma. The Olympics is when everybody forgets that and comes together and celebrates what we saw on the screen, the success and the failure, and the triumph and the heartbreak.
I think for the world it’s really important. I think for the country it’s really important. I think for NBC it’s part of the heartbeat of our company. It is something we’re very proud of: our relationship with the Olympic movement and the IOC. We’re really proud of these athletes every four years to spend their lives and their heart and soul preparing for this one moment. Sometimes it’s 10 seconds long.
I’m just proud to be a part of it.
MIKE TIRICO: Mark, I know for you this will be your fifth Olympic Games. You’ve seen it grow, expand and continue to shape so much of what we do as a company and what we do as a sports division. Just in terms of how do we measure and balance the growth of the Games, to spread it all the way across NBCU, as we get set to present an amazing number of hours of content?
MARK LAZARUS: Yeah, it truly is a logistical feat. Seven thousand hours across so many platforms. I think as the Games have grown both in scale and number of sports and number of athletes, and as much as we have to cover, we as a company have grown and evolved, too.
If you go back to the first Games that I was involved with, which was in 2012 in London, that was the first Games that we streamed everything live. That had never been done before. We then went on, and with our partners, our sister company, Comcast, in 2016 they created the creating the X1 platform, that really showcased how an Olympics could be covered so completely and universally on a platform like that.
Now we expand to what we’ve been doing more with Telemundo in Spanish, all of our cable networks, and now we bring it to Peacock. We’re able to continue as the Games have grown and expanded, so have we, and so have how consumers utilize it.
Our job is to pick the best platform for each piece of content, while trying to take the incredible reach that the Olympics have, the incredible reach that the NBC broadcast network has, and put it on the biggest stage. It’s a phenomenal asset. We have a great set of rights. We have the most complete set of rights of any sport that we have on any of our networks and that any network really has. Essentially, every technology known today or to be invented between now and 2032, that gives us the ability to try new things and to experiment. That’s what we’ll be doing across the platforms.
MIKE TIRICO: It’s going to be so exciting for the viewers. Looking at the schedules, you’re going to be able to watch whatever you want to watch at any time. When it’s happening, you want to be up at 3 in the morning. Especially for the parents who aren’t going to be able to see their kids compete in person, what an opportunity. They can wake up and know they can rely on being able to watch it.
Pete, for you this is the first Olympic Games as Chairman at NBC Sports. I would imagine the scope of the Games is something that has to be unique as you’ve watched it, been a part of it, but now do it from a unique and different position. What has surprised you about the size and scope? What are you looking forward to?
PETE BEVACQUA: I’ve been lucky enough to be at past Olympics as a guest of NBC. I’m coming full circle. I think about my time at Beijing, Sochi, and then as part of the golf movement in Rio. But to be now part of the NBC team, to see the preparation that has gone into this. To look here at our team you look at Gary Zenkel, Molly Solomon, Rob Hyland, Joe Gesue, Becky Chatman. A person like Peter Diamond, this will be his 19th Olympics. Gary and I were joking, tallying up the aggregate of Olympic experience: about seven decades of Olympic experience that we have on the NBC team.
I think we’re prepared. We had the extra year due to the postponement to prepare even more.
In many ways this is our Olympics, too, in terms of our NBC Sports team. We are geared up for this. We have spent the better part of the last 14 months learning how to do things differently, taking those skills that now will absolutely apply themselves as we tackle what should be- I think -one of the most interesting and special Olympic Games ever.
I think the world right now needs an Olympics more than ever. We’re going into this with a tremendous amount of optimism, and we really feel that it’s going to be something special.
To be a part of it now, to be part of this NBC team, this is something I’ve had circled [on my calendar] and been looking forward to.
MIKE TIRICO: I think all of us have.
We do all the Zoom calls, the planning. So many months of planning. It’s so nice to see all our colleagues in person together in the same room. I saw that in Omaha, too. All the swimmers and competitors. The fact that they were there, the Olympic rings were there, people were making Team USA, the energy that has been talking about so long, is arriving. Thrilling for all of us.
There’s an empty chair. We need to fill the empty chair. We will do so with good reason. For the first time NBC is going to be presenting a live morning broadcast of an Opening Ceremony, followed by a special edition of Today. Later that evening we’ll have our NBC primetime curated broadcast starting at 7:30 PM ET on NBC.
Now joining us is the person to fill the chair who is going to be co-hosting the Opening Ceremony with me, Savannah Guthrie.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Thanks for letting me make an entrance. I was just watching an Opening Ceremony from Rio, and Gisele [Bunchen] got to walk, so that was my best Gisele walk.
MIKE TIRICO: Are you preparing again? If I’m here, you can’t be preparing. You can’t get ahead of me on the prep.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: You’re the veteran; I’m the newbie! I need to prepare. I’m trying to study like an Olympic athlete prepares for the competition. We have 206 delegations in the Parade of Nations. So it’s a lot of different facts to memorize.
MIKE TIRICO: You’ve covered Olympics, obviously, through the Today show role. Are you looking forward to this role but also with Today, as well?
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Of course. The Olympics is the highlight of working at the Today show and working at NBC. I’ve been to London, Sochi, PyeongChang. This is my very first Opening Ceremony. I’m so excited to be with you, Mike. You are such a generous and amazing colleague. We’ve had a lot of fun getting ready together.
This is going to be epic. I really think it’s going to be meaningful, the world all getting together. I hope it’s going to be a really healing moment, too.
MIKE TIRICO: You’ve seen a little bit of that on the show. Some people back at the plaza yesterday, for example. You’re getting a sense of people itching for it, now getting a little bit of what they’ve been craving for the last year.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: I think so. I think people want to feel good, they want to root for the home team, they want to be inspired. They want to watch that moment when someone’s life changes before your eyes. I’m excited. I think people are going to really catch the fever. There is nothing like the Olympics. We’ve all been binge watching, but at this point how many crime shows can you watch? Tiger King is great, but this is the Olympics; people want to see something special.
MIKE TIRICO: I think one of the things we’re so excited to see at that Opening Ceremony is the world come together. We’ve been talking about the pandemic. Obviously going to be a topic of conversation, one we’ll cover throughout. Will be part of the Today show story as well. What I always enjoy is watching the athletes after they win their medals come to the Today show. It’s almost like that first hug from America is there with you and Hoda…
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: It feels that way. I think hugs are going to be allowed. So I’m really excited about that. It’s true, you see these lives change. They’re so proud to come in and show you their medal. Sometimes they even let you put it on. When the teams come, I love the team spirit. It’s really contagious. I think people will really be tuning in, I hope to the Today show, to kind of set the table, do the highlight reel, but I love what you all were talking about — on demand, you can watch any of the events. So if you’re super into tennis, let’s just say, for example.
MIKE TIRICO: Who could that be?
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Who might you want to see playing tennis? They’ll all be there and you can watch it whatever, whenever you want. I like that.
MIKE TIRICO: Savannah’s Roger Federer is obvious; and has been out there for years. The only thing she’s talked about of 206 delegations in the Parade of Nations —
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Switzerland. You have to give me Switzerland. That’s all I can ask.
MIKE TIRICO: Jeff, Mark, for the way the entirety of the company gets behind the Olympics, being able to have both of us in sports and news together on the Opening Ceremony, it’s an example of how the Olympics have become part of the DNA of the company going forward.
JEFF SHELL: It is. It is where the whole company comes together. The whole country comes together. There’s not really an event where I know of, where for two weeks you have the whole country watching, but it’s all demos. It’s male and female, young and old, all different demos. For us at NBC, it’s a chance to showcase all of our talent, which you guys are important parts of. It’s also a chance to tell people what’s coming elsewhere to our company as we have the whole world watching. It’s an important promotional vehicle for all of our businesses that we look forward to telling the world what we have coming.
MARK LAZARUS: To play off that, the entire company promotes into the Olympics, and the Olympics promotes the entire company coming out of it. It really serves as that funnel. It’s an important part of what we do.
It brings all of us working together in unique ways across divisions and areas. I think it’s also really important to point out that you guys talked about 206 delegations walking in the Ceremony. This country, while it’s heavily Team USA, we have people living here from all of those nations. We cover them all. We tend to be inclusive.
The production team that Molly,Rob, and Joe will lead will showcase the best athletes in the world doing what they do, regardless of where they’re from and show those extraordinary moments and those emotional moments. I think that’s part of the unifying message we can send here in the country.
MIKE TIRICO: I think we’ll all see that. The Opening Ceremony will be live in Savannah’s time slot. Savannah, the great part for you is when you do the Today show afterwards during the week, you get to sleep in.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: I know. We’re on at night. I’m going to become a night owl. I don’t know what to do with myself!
MIKE TIRICO: We’re the ones waking up at 4 a.m.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: You won’t age a bit. I’m actually 32 (laughter).
MIKE TIRICO: We’ll now open it up to Q&A.
Q. Pete or Mark, how do you expect the unusual circumstances and the delay to affect interest level? Will it enhance it or diminish it or be neutral?
MARK LAZARUS: You mean the year-long delay?
MARK LAZARUS: I think we’re in a place where the world is excited to come out and do things and cheer for things. I think we’re seeing that in arenas around the country right now. I believe strongly that people are going to be excited about this, that people are waiting for things to happen. We’re seeing a lot of interest in our trials, we’re seeing a lot of coverage of the trials across all forms of media. That’s exciting for us.
We’re getting close.
PETE BEVACQUA: Yeah, I would agree. I think back to when the sports world came to a stop in March and April of 2020. I think that really proved to us again is how passionate people are about sports. Now that the sports calendar has picked back up, and people are coming back into arenas around the country and around the world, I think the delay has just brought more attention to these Olympics. Everybody is just waiting to see these nations come together in Tokyo, the best male and female athletes in the world. Again, I think it has that potential to be something really special with an interest level that hopefully will be off the charts.
Q. Where do things stand in regards to ad sales?
MARK LAZARUS: Where do things stand in regard to ads sales for the Olympics? The ads sales are real, they are not virtual (laughter).
We’re in very strong position. Our team that Linda (Yaccarino) and Dan (Lovinger) and Mark Marshall lead have done an incredible job. We always have inventory at the end. As ratings continue to be strong, we’ll be able to sell more inventory. We’re in very strong position. We have a lot of new advertisers, a lot of returning advertisers, a bunch of new categories. I would say we are in a robust position. But still open for a little business.
Q. Mark, you mentioned that part of your job is kind of looking at all of the content that will be available, deciding what platform is best. Can you walk us through how you thought about where you wanted to put certain things, why you decided to put women’s gymnastics on Peacock, for example?
MARK LAZARUS: That’s part of all of our jobs, not just necessarily my job. Really Molly and Gary. I’m going to let Molly answer more completely when we talk about production and planning but just broadly say we think there’s an opportunity. If you’re talking about women’s gymnastics, to have it live on Peacock in the morning, then our curated package, highly-produced dramatic moments and the entirety of the event on NBC in primetime. The time zone allows us to sort of, in my view, get the best of both worlds there.
Q. Contingency plans. in case somebody gets sick over there. Have you guys discussed moving events with the IOC or what are the contingency plans in case preparing for the worst?
PETE BEVACQUA: I would tell you, we obviously are in constant contact with the IOC, people on the ground in Tokyo. We have right now over 150 people there.
For us, just like any sporting event, obviously the Olympics are bigger and more international, but safety of our staff, following protocols first and foremost. We are making sure we have an unbelievable plan in Tokyo. We’re also going to be here at 30 Rock. We’re going to be in our sports headquarters in Stamford, our Telemundo offices in Miami. In each of those instances, we will be incredibly prepared.
I think we’re going into this with the benefit of the IOC and TOCOG with an unbelievably strong plan in terms of creating safety for the people that there are, the athletes, and the limited spectators that will be there. I feel that the plan that has been developed over the course of a year plus couldn’t be more sound. Obviously these are different times with the pandemic. But we’re taking the lessons we’ve learned through all sports over the course of the last year, reinforcing those with our staff. I feel really good and positive as we stand here just a few weeks away from these Games starting.
MARK LAZARUS: I think it’s important to point out that we are there to broadcast the Games, cover the proceedings. We’re in constant dialogue with the IOC and TOCOG. We like, every other broadcaster in the world, are adhering to the rules and guidelines that they set forth. We’re not in a position to say we should move events or anything of the sort. We know those two organizations are focused on the health and safety of everyone involved, as we are with our teams.
GREG HUGHES: Thank you, we’ll move on to the next panel.
MIKE TIRICO: Some of the faces you will see a lot of as we get closer to, then into the Games. We are now joined by Gary Zenkel, Molly Solomon and Rob Hyland, key contributors in these large plans. We talked about all the hours we have, many networks. We’ll get into those details here.
Gary, as was mentioned a moment ago by Pete, we have a lot of our teammates on the ground in Tokyo. You have done maybe 500 different plans before the pandemic, during the pandemic, now after. Here we are a month out. Operationally, where are we in terms of the planning and the execution of that plan? How ready are the folks over there in Tokyo?
GARY ZENKEL: Thanks, Mike. It’s great to be here. Like Jeff, I have watched these videos a thousand times; it’s firing me up.
What is really firing me up, though, talking to and working with the team that’s on the ground in Tokyo. We are about 150 to 200 strong there today. We moved people in in late March, ramped up, that obviously has continued to about a 1,600-person team.
Everything is going incredibly well, smoothly. The adrenaline that we all have experienced at the Olympics is starting to come through the Teams calls that we’re having daily with these folks. Their report is there probably have never been a smoother buildup. The Japanese have done an amazing job. The government and TOCOG responding to obviously the disappointment of the postponement, figuring out over the course of these last 14 months how they are going to operate an Olympics safely in that environment. What they have the true benefit of, unlike some of their predecessors, the games were ready to be staged March of 2020. Their focus has been on health and safety, the protocols that we have been subject to and will continue to be are quite strict. But we’re working within them. We’re quite confident, given them and given the protocols that we have applied to ourselves through 14 months of operating remotely and operating in buildings like this, that it’s going to be a very safe and very successful Games.
MIKE TIRICO: That’s a little bit of a structure here. We also have so many folks that are going to be stateside, as well.
GARY ZENKEL: We do. Actually when the postponement occurred, it was clear to us that operating in Tokyo with a team of 2,000-plus people was going to be challenging given what we were learning about operating in a COVID environment.
We threw a deep planning exercise, and moved 350 people home. Of course, we already had 1,500 or so that were going to operate from home. So, that team swelled a bit. We then spaced out a bit across Stamford, 30 Rock, CNBC and Telemundo and the other parts of NBC infrastructure. Now, we’re set up again with a lot of learnings to operate in both places.
MIKE TIRICO: It will be a global Games, not just in participation, but also in coverage from our perspective.
GARY ZENKEL: Absolutely.
Molly Solomon has been part of the NBC Olympics family since 1992. This is something you’re close to, passionate about, near and dear to your heart. You’ll now step into the role of executive producer of the Games. Given your experience, all the Games you’ve seen, we’ve talked about a lot of those experiences, how do you step back and frame what Tokyo will be all about from your perspective?
MOLLY SOLOMON: To me, I really believe this is going to be the most meaningful Olympics of our lifetime. After everything the world has gone through, as we begin to emerge from this pandemic, the world coming together is an incredibly impactful experience.
I do think that people are craving the shared experience. What better way to come together than through the stories of these athletes? I really think they show us what’s best about us and what’s possible.
What’s better to unite this country and what really can more than the athletes of Team USA and all the athletes of the international community? To me, they really embody persistence, resilience, and grit. Imagine you had your dream deferred for another year. Now we’re finally in the countdown to that. And we’ve got a number of compelling story lines, once-in-a-generation athletes that you and I saw last week and we’ll talk about today.
And in order to follow these stories, we really have put together the most ambitious coverage plan ever. We’ve also adapted to the changing consumption habits.
Our goal was to be everything for everyone. Let me take you through. We’ve got some slides to tell you how you’re going to watch the Games from Tokyo. It all begins with NBC. We’ll kick off on July 23rd with the live Opening Ceremony; primetime will be live across, in primetime and prime plus, in all time zones.
We’re going to have eight total networks: USA and NBCSN will be dedicated to 24/7 coverage, long-event form coverage. Of course, we’re going to have our newest platform, Peacock, with some really unique viewing options. We’ll talk about that a little later. Everything is always streaming on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app.
This really is everything for everyone. It’s our most coverage we’ve ever had. We’re going to be using the metric that we pioneered in Rio, Total Audience Delivery. As you can see from all of these networks, the cumulation of that is really the true measure about how the American public is consuming our media.
It’s a lot. We’re really, really excited about it.
MIKE TIRICO: We’ll talk a little bit later about how there will be things going on in different networks at the same time. We’ll be sharing that information with the audience. We’ll be giving them a little bit of direction on that.
There’s another part of this. Go ahead, Molly.
MOLLY SOLOMON: Yeah, I was going to say, Gary, we’re not just limited to NBCUniversal platforms, either.
GARY ZENKEL: No. Clearly, Mark mentioned this as well, to reach the entire U.S. population, we know that media is consumed across many platforms.
We have been working with these groups with one addition that I’ll talk about in a second.
MIKE TIRICO: Looks like my kid’s phone.
GARY ZENKEL: Exactly. That’s where we know your kids, mine, and others spend a lot of their media consumption time. This is not typical posting. This is coverage in many cases. This is either in-house or working with partners or working directly with the platforms to develop content and coverage that is designed for the sensibility of these audiences.
Every one of these, with the exception of Twitch, which is the purple one, we have been working with for multiple Games. Twitch is new to us, and we’re excited about it. They are extremely excited about the opportunity to present the Olympics on the NBC Olympics and Sports handle on Twitch.
This is going to be a day of programming on Twitch. It’s going to be clip shows and Twitch streamers and gamers that are doing their thing and talking about the Games. There’s going to be what is called the Side Cast which will happen side-by-side with the NBC primetime show where they’re talking about what’s going on, what’s coming up, and energizing that audience.
If that’s where people are going to consume the Games, we’re going to be there. If they want to watch more complete coverage, they’re going to move over to NBC, which of course we talked about.
I think one other point I want to make is that with 7,000 hours and all of these platforms, including Peacock, which I know Matt Strauss will talk about, and Becky Chatman, in a second.
One thing that we have learned that is critical, if we want to truly reach the potential of people’s appetite for Olympic content, is to make sure they can find the content they truly want to watch.
The inspiration and really the path to succeeding with this came from Comcast. I’m reminded in 2011 when Rick Cordella, who’s on the Peacock team, also runs Olympics Digital, and I walked in a conference room, and Matt Strauss, who you’re going to hear from in a second with Peacock, we laid out what our fantasy was, which was a cable operator, when somebody sits down and watches the Olympics, is actually letting them know that the Olympics are on six channels.
What has come of that is the X1 hub, which was launched in 2016 and has been enhanced and improved, since we’ve seen 25% more viewing in a Comcast X1 home for the last two Olympics than in non-Comcast homes.
Inspired by that, we then went to the industry with that inspiration, with those numbers and said, ‘you can add more Olympic viewing if you create some form of Olympic navigation– an opportunity to search and discover.’
I mean, I’m blown away. This is probably a silver lining of a postponement none of us wanted, but it gave us more time to work with these distributors and for them to develop various ones. You won’t see X1-type depth here, but you will on some Comcast homes because they use X1. But you will see some form of Olympic navigation.
We talked to Apple, Roku, others not on this list because we’re still working on that front, that will have Olympic dashboards. For those that are going in through the IP streaming platforms, they will find their way to all of the content that is available on NBC’s digital platforms.
Then we’ve had a great partnership with Google Search and the Google OneBox, knowing that many people are going to figure out what to watch by going to Google. We are prominent in the Google OneBox with viewing information and highlights.
We are really excited that the net we have cast for these Games, for the American population to capture them when they are deciding to watch, is wide and deep and really intuitive.
MIKE TIRICO: That’s pretty cool. You can’t avoid us is what we’re saying pretty much (laughter).
My only question for Molly and Rob, who are going to be responsible for my role in Tokyo, do I have to dance on TikTok?
ROB HYLAND: I’ve seen your dance moves. Not going to happen.
MIKE TIRICO: Let’s talk about the way the Games play out. As we mentioned, it’s two and a half weeks. There’s so much competition going on. There’s so many different stories. Any time you turn around, you bump into one of the neatest things you’ve ever heard.
Molly, how do we lay it out in terms of big picture thinking to take viewers from that Opening Ceremony with Savannah on that Friday, live on really a Today Show window in the morning, and then curated again in primetime, all the way through the very end? How do we lay that out almost as a roadmap for viewers to follow along?
MOLLY SOLOMON: I thought I’d let you guys pull back the curtain, how internally we view the Olympics and how we balance all the story lines and actually how it makes its way into our thinking for primetime.
MOLLY SOLOMON: I thought I’d let you guys pull back the curtain, how internally we view the Olympics and how we balance all the story lines and actually how it makes its way into our thinking for primetime.
We really attacked the Olympics and look at it as three distinct chapters. Chapter one is about fast starts and big starts, because the American success in the pool where there’s so many stars. Mike and I experienced last week in Omaha, you have legendary athletes like Katie Ledecky, but you also have a rising multi-event superstar in Caleb Dressel, who we really saw emerge. The throne in men’s swimming has been abdicated, and Caleb jumped in there last week.
But equally so you have the incomparable Simone Biles who knows what she’s going to do. The team she’s with is really dynastic in nature. That’s going to be a huge part of week one.
I want you to look at the lower left corner. Skateboarding is one of four really intriguing new sports. You’ll see that in primetime and prime plus the very first night. It reminds me of snowboarding introduced in 1998. There’s some real potential there and some compelling stories.
Of course up there in the left corner, Alex and Alex, with the time zone, we’re going to be able to show a lot of live competition, not only swimming but also beach volleyball, indoor volleyball, some track and field. You can see kind of how the first week lays out.
If you move into the middle weekend, we like to say if week one is chapter one, then chapter two is the middle weekend. We like to tap it as the greatest weekend in sports because here is where all the stars align. You have the biggest stars in the Olympic core sports, track and field begins, swimming and an event finals in gymnastics continue. You see Sha’Carri Richardson down there in the middle. She is really one of these emerging stars that we’ve seen come up through the Olympic trials.
Then in the middle you see some of the best pro sport athletes in their respective sports come to Tokyo. They’re all going for the same prize that all of these other athletes are going for: Olympic gold. We have men’s golf, women’s tennis. We have (Novak) Djokovic there. Gosh, like Savannah, I hope Roger Federer can show up.
Really, this could be the greatest weekend in sports. We want you to sit on your couch, and we’re hoping for rain all over the country that weekend.
If you move into the third week, this is — we hope that storyline momentum continues. We really have high hopes. Bring it home, we say, because the U.S. teams are so very strong, and these medals are all decided the second week. I want you to see a lot of track and field there, because this is the strongest U.S. track team in a generation. We’re looking forward to that.
There is this empowering, uplifting message of the U.S. women’s teams who have been dominating. The U.S. women’s basketball team will go for its seventh straight Olympic gold medal in prime time. There’s rowing. Water polo is equally trying to cement their dynasty. Of course, the U.S. women’s soccer team is trying to back up that World Cup win with an Olympic gold medal.
It really lays out to be something really, really fantastic. But it’s overwhelming, right? There’s 35 sports. This is how we kind of start to think about it, sprinkle it in, and plan our shows around it.
MIKE TIRICO: And a lot of these three chapters will be displayed through our primetime broadcast every night and then prime plus right after that. The West Coast in their primetime, from 8:00 PM Pacific on, they’re getting live sports as well. It’s an exciting part of what we did in PyeongChang, and we’ll continue to do here in Tokyo.
Rob Hyland is going to be responsible for a lot of that. It’s a familiar face for us at NBC in a new role. Sadly for him, my face is very familiar, because we’ve worked together all year on the Triple Crown races, Football Night in America, and Notre Dame football. Rob is no stranger to the Olympics experience. He’s been at two of our big venues in the winter figure skating, track and field during the summer. Now he’s working on the Opening Ceremony and the primetime show.
We’ve had a lot of conversations. You can share with everyone what you’re thinking, how we’re going to lay this out, how we’re going to go about these 17 nights in primetime and prime plus.
ROB HYLAND: First off, so excited to be part of the primetime team. This is my 10th Olympic Games, as Mike said, I’ve been on the venue side. This is my first Olympic experience in the international broadcast center. Really excited to be a part of this tradition of best-in-class storytelling, and excited to get going.
To begin, I’ll highlight a few things that will be new for this Olympics. Number one, your home, where you’re going to be hosting prime time, will be the first-ever outdoor set. We really wanted to capture Tokyo live each morning and have the [Tokyo] Bay behind you, the Rainbow Bridge and showcase the environment that is Tokyo around you. Really cool set designs that Mike Sheehan, our coordinating director, has come up with. In fact, for the first time ever, we’re going to have virtual reality graphics in prime time as part of our presentation to really bring some of the stories and characters to life in a new way.
You’re going to be sharing the set with Savannah and company. You’ll be there in the morning. In the evenings in Tokyo, TODAY will take over. Really excited about the environment that you’ll be in in Tokyo. This is just one of seven set locations. We can put you anywhere throughout Tokyo. We’re excited about that.
MIKE TIRICO: It is 90 degrees over there and very humid.
ROB HYLAND: We have an indoor and outdoor area as well.
MOLLY SOLOMON: Maybe we’ll have a towel person to wipe you down between sections (laughter).
MIKE TIRICO: Other pieces to this as well, that’s the location, but what we’re going to be doing, because Molly showed you all of the major storylines in each day, that’s not all that’s going on in the Games. How are you giving people a feel for what’s going on as well?
ROB HYLAND: You heard the 7,000 hours mentioned and all of the content going on each morning in Tokyo. We really want to bring the best of the Games each morning in Tokyo, each night here in the States to the viewers at home in primetime.
How are we going to do that? Well, Molly and I have actually re-jiggered formats and included a new phrase called a short burst of energy. What can that be? That can be an athlete arriving to a venue, it could be a warmup shot, it could be a goal just scored in a soccer game.
We really want to try to break up block programming. If we’re live with swimming, and get the viewer to that moment as quickly as possible to give them the tapestry that is the Olympics and all of the venues, as Molly described, 35 sports. We want to make sure we’re showing the best of that each morning in Tokyo.
For example, we have a new element called Tokyo Now, where, as Gary mentioned, we really want to showcase in prime where the viewers can get what they’re looking for. Here is an example of a morning where we started on soccer and USA, and on all of the platforms you can get what you’re looking for, from hoops to swimming, to golf and tennis. There’s one example where we have six boxes; here is one with four boxes.
We’re going to integrate these into every morning of our primetime coverage to give the viewers the best seat in the house, or at least navigate for them where they should go if this is not what they want. We have something for everyone.
MIKE TIRICO: That will be great. That will be a lot of fun because there’s so many different networks, and the ability to tell people what’s on gives them the reminder it’s not just here. Please come back home to us on the primetime show, but we’re happy to share the wealth, let you visit the rest of the family along the way as we’re doing that.
One of the things we’ve talked about are the U.S. families; no international travelers to Tokyo. I know, Molly, we did the swim trials. They were so happy to see their kids, that’s who they are, their kids performing in person, because they’re not going to be able to be there in Tokyo. We’re going to try to find the best way to connect the U.S. and Tokyo, even if the people from the U.S. can’t be in Tokyo.
ROB HYLAND: We’ve been working on this for months, even before the news was announced that international fans would not be allowed to travel to Tokyo. It’s a pretty elaborate plan that we’re calling Friends and Family. It has its own production wing, and the umbrella continues to get bigger and bigger.
We really want to bring those moments between families and the Olympians together. We’re going to do it in a variety of ways, one of which is a typical example — you guys can roll the tape — of steeplechaser Emma Coburn’s sister Gracie from a couple years ago at the World Championships reacting. We’ll have cameras available like this available throughout the Games, and we’ll showcase these moments in every primetime show and in every platform.
Again, an example of a great, raw moment between a family member and their connection thousands of miles away.
What I’m most excited about, I think what we all are, is connecting. That was a reaction. We think we’re going to have interactions between family members and the athletes in Tokyo, perhaps in the mixed zone after a competition is complete, with Mom and Dad talking to their loved one. Really excited about that.
MIKE TIRICO: Something they’ll be missing out on because they can’t be there.
There’s all of that, plus, as we’ve talked about, Rob and I get to partner together on FNIA and Triple Crown, as well. We’ve had a friend who has joined us along the way. He’s coming to Tokyo with us, as well.
ROB HYLAND: Right. Football Night in America was a great success. We actually brought him along to the Triple Crown this year. Steve Kornacki, our national news correspondent, actually hit the winner in the derby. At least for now. You did collect the check, correct (laughter)?
Steve is going to be with us in Tokyo explaining the makeup of Team USA, highlighting some of the athletes, and explaining trends. Steve’s going to take it a way for a little bit of a look back at Rio and a look forward to next month’s Olympics.
STEVE KORNACKI: Look, Olympic Trials still going on. Team USA still taking shape. I thought we’d take a look here, some of the building blocks that are in place in what is starting to come into focus when it comes to Team USA in the Tokyo Games.
Let’s start with where things landed in 2016 in Rio. 558 members of Team USA at the Summer Games in 2016. A majority of the athletes, 53% in 2016, were women. This was the most women ever to compete for one country at any Olympic Games. 53% in 2016. Also an amazing stat there, I’ll tease this, I want to share with you as well, you see some of the most popular sports for U.S. athletes.
How about this one? This is a great one. The age range. This is 2016. From oldest to youngest on the U.S. team, there was a 36-year gap here. This one makes me feel really good as I start to age a little bit. Phillip Dutton, 52 years old, you see him holding up his bronze medal. He won that thing from eventing. They call that the ultimate test of horsemanship. That was five years ago. He’s back. He’s not 52; he’s 57. He’s the oldest U.S. athlete in any Olympics since 2008. The second oldest since 1952. He’s going to go for the gold in eventing.
Kanak Jha, table tennis phenom, he was the youngest in 2016. He’s back in 2021. He will not be the youngest anymore. One of the new skateboarders, Brighton Zeuner is her name, she’ll be the youngest, due to turn 17 in the next month. A 40-year gap there, oldest to youngest, this time around.
Every state you see colored in here is a state that was represented on the 2016 U.S. team. Almost all 50. 46 of the 50 made their way onto Team USA, the most popularity out in California, no surprise, the mother lode. This is interesting. California, 22% of all athletes on the team. It’s a big state obviously, with only 12% of the U.S. population. The Golden State punching above its weight in 2016. When it comes to representation, no surprise that Texas, Florida also produced a lot of athletes.
Good news for anybody from Montana. Zero athletes on the 2016 team. Already multiple athletes on the 2021 team. Representing Wyoming, North Dakota, West Virginia. You have a few more weeks to see if you can do it this time around.
80% of the athletes in 2016 were college athletes. What college produced the most athletes on the 2016 U.S. Olympic team? Stanford is the correct guess; the Cardinal with 29. The California schools always well represented. What I always look to is how about the small school that gets that one moment of glory? Georgia, Atlanta, Emory University, home of the Eagles, Andrew Wilson is the name, first-ever Division III athlete, who will be participating in swimming at the Olympics. There’s a first for Emory.
Of course it’s all about the medals. 2016, this is where things landed with medals. 121 total medals to the U.S. team. Most ever for a United States team at any Olympics that weren’t held in the United States, L.A. ’84, St. Louis 1904. Outside of those years, 121 in 2016 was the most. The 46 gold medals, that tied the record the U.S. set in 2012. Most gold at a game not on U.S. soil.
Here, I teed it up a minute ago, that kind of wild stat I wanted to share. How about this? Let’s zoom in on the gold medals. U.S., 46, Britain and China kind of just left in the dust here. What if we took those U.S. female athletes and we said, “You’re your own country, U.S. women are your own country, you’re competing against the world.” How would they have done in 2016? Number one, they would have tied with Britain for the most gold medals. The U.S. women, 27; everybody from Great Britain, 27. China behind it, 26. We’ve got Katie Ledecky coming back, Simone Biles coming back. Keep an eye on that one.
Men were no slouch. They’d be number five in the world. Again, a lot of building blocks there from ’16 to ’21.
MIKE TIRICO: Is this just a preview? You’re going to have this all the way through the Games? [laughs]
STEVE KORNACKI: This is the tip of the iceberg.
MIKE TIRICO: Does the board come with you, or is there a special…
STEVE KORNACKI: I get a couple seats on the plane (laughter).
MIKE TIRICO: So excited to have you with us.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll open it up to questions.
- How do you guys view your audience demographic to be different between streaming and traditional television? The second part of my question is, with all the emphasis on Peacock, all the coverage there, you recently put MLB games there for the first time, simultaneously NBC Sports Network, the linear TV channel is shutting down. I think this will be its last Olympics. Do you view this at your network, the Tokyo Games, as a seminal moment as a shift into streaming from traditional broadcasting?
MOLLY SOLOMON: I could talk to a bunch of those.
We’re going to leave Peacock to the next panel so they can preview.
I think with the proliferation of all these different platforms, it allows us to cater to both the super fan with everything streaming all the time, but then you can come over to the network in primetime and get a highly-curated, most popular sports in primetime. Then you go over to the cable channels, and the real estate there really allows us to show long-form coverage of games and events on USA and NBCSN.
That really is how we think about how can we make sure that we are serving our viewers in different ways? All the proliferation of platforms have really enabled us to do that.
MIKE TIRICO: Thank you all very much.
In a minute we’re going to be joined live from Eugene, Oregon, with our track and field analysts, Ato Boldon and Sanya Richards-Ross. Before we hear from them, here’s a look at the men and women in the running for Team USA.
We’ll bring in now from Eugene, Oregon, Ato Boldon, four-time Olympian in track and field, representing Trinidad and Tobago — I’ll get to you, Sanya, hang on a second, let me just introduce Ato, give him his love — four-time medalist in the 100 and 200 meters. And Sanya Richards-Ross, five-time Olympic medalist, very shy, four-time gold medalist in the 400 and the 4 x 400 relay, considered one of the fastest women in the world. You wanted me to get to that, right? The American record holder in the 400, in the top 10 times in U.S. history in that event.
Good morning, Eugene. How are things going out there?
ATO BOLDON: Good morning. We are good. It’s early, but here we are.
SANYA RICHARDS-ROSS: Hey, everyone, we’re so excited to be with you guys. How is it going out there?
MIKE TIRICO: Great. I hear it’s going to be super hot next week. But the competition was great the first four days or so.
Sanya, I’ll start with you. What was your headline, your takeaway from the first four days that stuck out?
SANYA RICHARDS-ROSS: Oh, my goodness, this meet has been nothing short of exhilarating. There have been so many great performances. I’m going to select Allyson Felix making her fifth Olympic team in dramatic fashion. In the final, she fell back to fourth, I thought, okay, she’s going to be on the relay team, but that was not going to be enough for the new mom. She finished second, and she’s heading into the 400 to Tokyo. I’m super excited for that race.
MIKE TIRICO: It was emotional. You could see the great scene of Allyson with her daughter, Cameron, and then one of the other finishers in the race had her son out there. And then, hey, super moms, who are both going to Tokyo as moms, which is exceptionally exciting to watch and emotional for them.
Ato, for you, give me a headline for the first four days?
ATO BOLDON: I think I have to say Miss Sha’Carri Richardson, and that’s because one of the things that’s great about the Olympic trials is that we get to expose America to somebody who we have been excited about for a long time. Anybody who saw Sha’Carri Richardson two years ago break the collegiate record and win the NCAA title as a freshman said a star is born. But America discovered her last weekend. We’re figuring out that her Instagram followers went from 60,000 to 1.1 million. A star is born. She is the breakout star of these Olympic trials so far.
MIKE TIRICO: Sanya, if you can take a step back, the entirety of Team USA, do you see this as a significant Olympics for the U.S. in all the track events? We’ll start with the ladies side, first.
SANYA RICHARDS-ROSS: Absolutely. For so many reasons. We’ve been waiting so long for the 2020 Olympic Games. It’s finally happening. I thought the athletes might be struggling a bit from having that season off. But they have come out even stronger. It’s been incredible to watch.
When we talk about the women, I’ve been hearing all the stats about how dominant the women were in 2016. They’re not slowing down.
Another female athlete I am eyeing, super excited about, another big star, Athing Mu. She hasn’t competed yet. She’ll be here at 800 meters. She also will be one of the big stars that will lead the women’s side to Tokyo.
MIKE TIRICO: Ato, I want to wrap up with this. There’s this Bolt guy, this Usain Bolt guy who has been around for the last 13 years. With Bolt holder of the title the fastest man in the world, winning the 100 and the 200 at each of the last three Summer Games, no Usain Bolt in the blocks. Who, in your mind, are the names we should watch as the individuals who can take that title as fastest man in the world?
ATO BOLDON: Well, you could do a lot worse than to look at Trayvon Bromell of the United States. He won here, undefeated for the entire year. He has the fastest time in the world.
Is he a lock to win in Tokyo? I don’t know if he’s a lock. You can do a lot worse than saying that guy is going to be the one after all the rounds of Tokyo are done he’s going to have the Olympic gold medal around his neck. The U.S. men have not won the Olympic gold since 2004, before the Bolt era started.
The United States I think is getting the Olympic gold in the 100 meters back in Tokyo.
MIKE TIRICO: Noah Lyles has an important weekend coming up.
ATO BOLDON: He has a very important weekend. For about two months I’ve been saying I don’t know what’s wrong with Noah, something is wrong with Noah. He’s going to have a hard time making the 100m team. People said, “Oh, no, he’ll figure it out.”
He didn’t figure it out in the 100. Right now I have to see his opening rounds in the 200 before I am convinced he makes that team. The 200 team, yes, he’s the champion. That’s the event he’s more comfortable with. That’s the harder team to make here. There’s actually more guys in the 200 for the United States that are stronger.
Noah, a lot of questions will be answered this week coming.
MIKE TIRICO: Great to see you at the swim trials. Sanya, you were at the Kentucky Derby. A fun time already in the buildup. Looking forward to being on your track, so to speak, to be out with you in Eugene this weekend for the coverage of the trials.
SANYA RICHARDS-ROSS: Can’t wait to see you.
MIKE TIRICO: I’m done, which is good for you.
THE MODERATOR: Jenny Storms will be here next, the CMO of NBCUniversal Entertainment and Sports for a look at NBCU’s Symphony.
JENNY STORMS: Good to see everybody today. I’m really excited to share some top line marketing plans that we have. Everything is already in place and going. I’ll run swiftly through a few of the top line points.
I wanted to say on that piece of content that just ran, kind of a fun story, we shot with Simone a few months ago to develop that. It first aired a couple weeks ago. A couple weeks ago we had the U.S. Gymnastics Championships where Simone was the first woman in competition to land the Yurchenko double pike vault. What was interesting is we put that out on social, as well as her floor routine, and we watched not only our own channels, but all consumers, take her routines and actually create this idea of defying gravity with it.
Through those six days, our social channels actually amassed a billion-plus impressions and 40 million views. Simone’s videos were a third of the impressions and two-thirds of the views.
With that incredible tailwind, we’re heading into our final sprint here into the Games. We’ve really never have been more positioned for success right now with NBCUniversal. The energy, the excitement, and as Molly was talking about, the meaning of the Games.
NBCUniversal is going to deliver the biggest and most meaningful games ever. We have a superpower behind us; we have a secret sauce. It is called Symphony. It’s how our company comes together, it’s how we collaborate. Thank you so much to our leadership. It is part of our culture; something we do every day.
There also have been a lot of events that have happened, including many sporting events over the six, eight and 12 months. This is the first time the world is coming together. That is truly special. Team USA is primed to shine 100%.
I’ve spoken in the past about data, the importance of it. The fact we have an Olympic segmentation that guides us. Every person in this room connects with the Olympics in a different way. We want to make sure as we’re speaking to consumers, we’re very relevant, authentic and unique in that.
But in those insights we know there are some overarching strategic levers we can pull with regards to the Olympics and promotions, and they’re up here. The one is connecting the people to athletes. You’ve seen all these amazing videos running, giving you chills, I’m sure, because you connect with the story, you connect with the background, where they’re from, or how they got to this point.
The second is we’re in the middle of it now, event-izing Trials. So good to hear from Sanya and Ato just a minute ago. They’re out there. Exciting. People were in Omaha. This is incredible. Sha’Carri’s story. We’re in Sha’Carri mania right now. Still seeing it happen, coming across.
The last one is, we know everyone comes in for that moment of Opening Ceremony. There’s such a push to consumers to get to that Opening Ceremony on the 23rd [of July]. Then they stay with us throughout.
That great push to Opening Ceremony, how are we going to get there? Starting today, 30 days, into July, it’s the whole month of July. We will have integrations and opportunities to be really high-reach events across our platforms at NBCUniversal and Comcast. This is just a snapshot and not everything.
In the month of July, every single day we will have some type of high-reach event integration or activation that is happening. I’m going to touch on just a couple of these in a second.
Part of that is an unprecedented opportunity to take all of Comcast and NBCUniversal in the first time ever, not one, not two, but four roadblocks. NBCUniversal is proud to reach over 93% of Americans every single month. Imagine, this is four times. One month, starting today, one week, tomorrow, then the let-the-Games begin, which will happen on the day of Opening Ceremonies.
Let-the-Games begin is a really, It’s very cool. In those famous words of the Opening Ceremony, he says those words. We’ve gone around to all the businesses and the great talent, entertainment, news and sports, that we have through all these businesses, they have recorded that line.
On the 23rd, what’s going to happen is we’ll have one compilation spot with all of that great talent. Each of the brands on this page is going to have their own piece of content and compilation spots that they’re going to then distribute. We are going to produce a piece for each of the talent that said it, so they can put it out. Think of that enormous firehose and distribution channel that we have on the 23rd with all of that great content.
As others have mentioned, we are very blessed to have so many networks, two broadcast networks, six entertainment cable networks, sports networks, so many opportunities for us to have so much support and running an integration going into the Games.
I’ll give you a little snapshot of what this looks like. Essentially, I mentioned we’re 100 out roadblock, today 30 days out, then you can see their stuff of content. That’s across all of the networks of NBCUniversal and Comcast. We have the opportunity to stair step and get so much promotion going on.
We have our local, our affiliates, our distribution partners. Gary mentioned a few of those. Think about what we do here on the local side and the affiliate side. We connect personally and locally.
Simone Manuel out of Houston, we send that affiliate, that local station, a specific piece of content. How amazing was that story for her, emotional to make the team? Great distribution and a massive portfolio supporting us.
Also on television, first time, we have a great piece of programming that’s going to air on July 21st with the Jonas Brothers, Nick, Kevin and Joe, who have a playful time where they’re actually competing against each other. This is Olympic Dreams, featuring the Jonas Brothers two days before Opening Ceremony. They will compete against each other in BMX, hurdles and gymnastics. I’m a little scared thinking about it. I hope they’re all okay. But it is a really playful, fun thing. The brothers are absolute Olympic fanatics. They are so excited for the Games. They’re so into the Olympics. They’re going to be a big part of it. They also are just excited because they’re competing against each other.
I have a little piece of content to show you.
We were definitely holding our breath when he did that flip, hoping that he sort of made it.
Outside of television, I want to touch on two really big high-reach activations and events. The first we’re dubbing Rings Across America. At the Olympics when you go to the Games, one of the most visited, if not the most-visited place, is the giant Olympic rings that they have. Everyone goes and takes their photo against those rings.
As others have mentioned, because there are no friends or families or tourists able to go to Japan, we decided to bring the rings back home and let everyone enjoy this. After the July 4th holiday, this installation will start in Los Angeles, and go across the country stopping in Chicago, Miami, Orlando, up to D.C., make its way to the TODAY plaza by July 23rd for the Opening Ceremony.
Here is what is really cool, it looks like this the whole time. You’re going to be coming up the N.J. Turnpike, this is going to be driving next to you, which is going to be really awesome. We’re thinking a lot of Snapchats, a lot of TikTok, a lot of things going on virally for that.
The other one that just started a about a week or so ago is really the Olympic takeover down at Universal Parks in Orlando. They are celebrating the Olympics like never before. On the left-hand side, which you’re going to see, is a music plaza takeover, which is an area that we are dressing up. They’re showing streams of the Trials, streams of the Olympics. They also have Tokyo-inspired food and drink in the area. They’re really embracing it.
Also on the right-hand side first time ever, we’re having a lagoon light show. At the end of each night, almost like our own Tokyo closing ceremonies every single night in Orlando with Olympic music, lights, beautiful imagery from the athletes.
Other things that we have going on in Orlando, our signage throughout the park, the NBC Sports Grill & Brew is takeover for Tokyo. The park staff have their attire. Our own Mike Tirico is doing wake-up calls at the hotels. Mike, I don’t know what time you have to get up to do all that. On behalf of marketing, I want to say thank you. Really, really appreciate it.
Then this Friday, one of the most anticipated films of the summer releases in the Fast & Furious franchise, Fast 9. There are some great scenes and crossover with this film and the Olympics. We’ve been very fortunate to work with our brothers and sisters over at Universal and create an awesome piece of content that I brought for you today.
So great. Then finishing up, there is so much going on again, sort of a top line. I wanted to share a bit about the custom promos if you’re doing. If you are a Real Housewives fan, you know they have those custom tag lines that lead into the show, we did that with Olympians. We started it in PyeongChang. It was so successful, we’ve done it again now. Ashleigh Johnson, water polo player, she says, “If you don’t like it when I make waves, just get out of the pool.” So it’s that kind of kitschy, sort of Real Housewives tag lines, and we did it with the athletes.
We have Harry Potter, SYFY, and USA are also working with Universal Kids some content around Harry Potter answering the very important question: Should quidditch be an Olympic sport? A teaser: Yes, apparently it should.
And then, finally, a ton of WWE superstars doing custom content with us.
Again, just an overview and a snapshot. I’ll end with kudos to the entire team across the company because when the shift of the gGames happened, it wasn’t just a lift and shift of the plans a year and a half ago to now, it was a reinvention, innovation. We’ve had that time and been able to really big deeper and develop even that much more meaningful content.
MIKE TIRICO: Coming up next is an update on the Olympic plans and programming for Peacock.
LINDSAY CZARNIAK: It’s so awesome to be here. First of all, I want to say how excited I am to share the news. I’m going to be hosting a new daily show on Peacock called On Her Turf at the Olympics. I’m so excited about this. We want to dig right into the panel.
Matt Strauss, so great to see you. Becky Chatman, Amber Ruffin, Laurie Hernandez. These two were comparing gymnastics moves in the green room. I was slightly nervous.
Let’s start with you, Matt, this is Peacock’s first endeavor with the Olympics. What can people expect? What is this like?
MATT STRAUSS: First, it’s really exciting for me personally. I’ve been working on the Olympics in London with Gary but always from Comcast Xfinity. Now to be part of the NBCUniversal family, to bring the Olympics to Peacock is an awesome responsibility. It’s also exciting.
We want to make it really easy for streamers to be able to access some of the fan favorite sports like track and field, gymnastics, basketball, but have that live right alongside clips, highlights, replays, all in one place.
We also have some exciting original programming that we’re going to be having on Peacock that will be exclusive as well as we’re launching Olympic Channels on Peacock. There will be Peacock linear channels that we’ll be programming that will be available on the service.
I actually brought a sneak peek, just to give you a flavor for how we’re going to bring this to life in July. A couple things to highlight for you if you’re not familiar with the Peacock app. When you come into the app, the upper left-hand corner you’ll see that we have the Peacock logo alongside the Olympic rings, which we are proud to have the representation within our product.
Along the main menu on the top, we’ll be launching what we call an Olympic hub. This is where steamers will have access to get all the Olympics content in one place. On the bottom, we’re going to be organizing and curating the whole Olympics by sport.
If you want to watch Simone Biles live, it just takes the click of a button. We’ll have live programming always top, front and center. You can always jump into the action. As you continue to go down the main menu of the Peacock app, this is where we’re going to be providing all the replays from events, curated highlights, continue to go down the page.
This is where we’ll also be showcasing the original programming, which Becky is going to talk about in a minute. We also want to start to marry this notion of a dashboard within the product as well, making it easy for streamers to get schedule information, medal counts, which is something always people want to know, and have that all live right alongside all of the programming.
Another thing I want to quickly show you is if you select one of the sports like basketball, this is again just a very quick way you can see that we’re directionally building out the sports of destinations where all the content will be housed in one place. If you want to watch basketball, it will be really easy for you to find news content, all the clips and replays and the playlists.
U.S. men’s basketball is actually one of the sports that we’ll be streaming exclusively live; Peacock will be one of the platforms that will have access to that as well.
The last thing I want to show you is panels. This is also something we’re really excited about. Creating within a streaming environment, you have the ability to have linear experiences, and there will be six Peacock linear Olympic Channels that we’ll be programming. This is where there will be commentary from Amber, Laurie. We’ll be doing daily shows. We have commentary from Snoop Dog and Kevin Hart, which is going to be fun, completely unpredictable. Hopefully that’s going to work out (laughter).
This is just another opportunity for us to create like a multi-platform type of experience for our streaming audience.
LINDSAY CZARNIAK: Becky, can you share some of the specifics about the programming?
BECKY CHATMAN: I’d love to. So many great shows. We’re going to kick things off every morning with Tokyo Live, and it’s hosted by Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbaja-Biamila from American Ninja Warrior. You guys know them well. They’re huge sports and Olympic fans. The show is really going to showcase their personalities. That’s the place where you’re going to see live events every morning. Live gymnastics, including all the finals. You’re going to see Team USA go for gold and Simone Biles, who we can’t stop talking about because she’s the G.O.A.T. Laurie is going to join the guys in the studio to talk through, help them learn about gymnastics, maybe show them a thing or two. And, Amber, we’re going to grab you and probably do the same.
Week two we’re going to have live track and field, which is great. We’re going to have Sha’Carri Richardson, Allyson Felix, a lot of the big names you heard. The guys are going to have fun. They’re going to be out and about in Tokyo, do interviews, have features. It will be a great show.
Then following that is 11 a.m. Eastern every morning, Tokyo Gold. 11 a.m. Eastern is midnight in Tokyo. That’s the end of the competition day. It’s the first time ever we’re going to do a highlight show from the Olympics. We’ve never had one before. It’s hosted by the immensely talented Rich Eisen, perfect for this. We’re not going to be your typical highlight show. We’re going to have highlights, interviews, really go behind the scenes so people know what happened at the Games. You’ll see things that you probably won’t see anywhere else. We’re really excited about Tokyo Gold.
And then at night, Lindsay, it’s your show, On Her Turf at the Olympics. It’s amazing. I have to say it’s great to have the show today because it’s 49 years since Title IX became a law. It’s the first time we had a show dedicated to female Olympians at the Games. You will be joined by MJ Acosta-Ruiz and Lolo Jones, who is a rare winter and summer Olympian.
LINDSAY CZARNIAK: I’m excited to have a platform to focus on the female Olympians, which are there are so many, so strong, tremendous stories. We’ve been getting the research material and things people are sending. So many interesting different topics. The fact that there’s a whole slew of them who are moms. There’s so many different angles. It’s going to be really fun. The opportunity to have to work with these two women, but also have different guests, just great.
I have to say, the Team USA women have won more medals than the men the last two summer games. So it’s about time the women are getting their own show.
BECKY CHATMAN: Then we close everything out with Tokyo Tonight. It’s going to be Kenny Mayne and Cari Champion, with Jac Collinsworth as a special correspondent. It’s five hours every night, it’s going to bring all the team moments, highlights, interviews, profiles. We’ve got you covered on Peacock all day long. It’s a great lineup.
LINDSAY CZARNIAK: Laurie, you’re going to be over there and you’re going to be working and commentating, analyzing. What are you most excited about?
LAURIE HERNANDEZ: Honestly, being at the Games not as an athlete but someone who gets to oversee everything and talk about it, really excited about that. It’s a new experience for me. I’m also excited to watch all the athletes’ stories. The year delay has completely flipped things upside down. To see athletes do just incredible things because of that year, I think that’s going to be wonderful for not just me, but for everybody.
LINDSAY CZARNIAK: So Laurie was showing video of herself because I was asking her if she does these skills that have not been done, and then she tapes herself and puts them on social media. I think that’s such a genius idea. Can you share briefly what you do?
LAURIE HERNANDEZ: Yeah, I can try.
The skill that I did, I’m swinging on the uneven bars. I’m on the high bar, I swing with my hands in front grip. I’m in a straddle underneath. And then momentum, let go, do a front flip, and then catch the bar. Nobody has done that before. I won’t be able to compete it this year, because I won’t be competing at the Olympics. But had it been done and made, it would have been named after me.
LINDSAY CZARNIAK: You can name it after you now (laughter). The Ruffin pulled out her phone and showed us her skill.
AMBER RUFFIN: It’s a really difficult skill where you floop and then you flop. I did it. I nailed it.
LINDSAY CZARNIAK: Are you going to Tokyo?
AMBER RUFFIN: Yes, I get to go to Tokyo, too, yippee! I used to coach gymnastics. And I executive produce and host a show on Peacock called The Amber Ruffin Show. It’s a late night show where we have a lot of fun. We’re going to take a lot of those elements, sketches and that silliness, we’re going to take it to Tokyo. I’m just going to be a part of our coverage, including Tokyo Live. We’re also going to do some bits where I’ll be the audience. I’m going to say, skateboarding, how and why? So I will act as the audience, get some information on a lot of these newer sports so we can become educated together.
LINDSAY CZARNIAK: You might be a little too serious for the role (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: Questions for this group.
Q. Matt, could you give us a sense of how many Peacock sign-ups you’re hoping to generate as a result of marketing the service during the Olympics?
MATT STRAUSS: What we said publicly at our last earnings call was we have roughly 42 million Peacock sign-ups. We also continue to be very pleased with the progress we’ve been making.
One of the unique things we can do as a company to help us continue to build out our platform. We don’t have any new guidance on this, but we are very optimistic that this it’s going to bring a new audience to Peacock and help us grow as we continue to add more and more subscribers.
Q. Matt or Rebecca, how many live hours are we talking about on Peacock?
MATT STRAUSS: We haven’t defined the number of live hours. Obviously we’re focusing on the fan-favorite sports like they mentioned before. We’re going to be doing lots of different look-ins during certain prime time events as well. We have flexibility in exactly how much content we’re going to be making available live. We also will be making a very large portion of the 7,000 available for replays, clips and playlists.
Q. Men’s basketball is going to be a premium, but everything else is going to be free. Can you walk us through the decision making there, what guided that choice?
MATT STRAUSS: I’m happy to answer that one.
Actually, I forgot to mention that. Thank you for reminding me (laughter).
The vast majority of the Olympics programming on Peacock is going to be available for free and it’s ad supported. We also have a premium tier on Peacock. Given that we’re still testing and learning, we thought it was an opportunity for us to take an event like U.S. men’s basketball and make it available on the premium tier.
It’s a way for us to learn. Obviously the men’s basketball is going to be available on NBC, as are the replays and highlights . We also make all of that programming, Olympics programming, available to our paid-TV subscribers as well. It’s also going to be accessible in other places as well. For Peacock, we thought it was an interesting opportunity to learn.
MODERATOR: Thank you all very much.