FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 10th, 2014
2014 SOCHI OLYMPIC PRESS EVENT – TRANSCRIPT
GREG HUGHES: Good afternoon everyone, thanks for being here today. We have a big show for you, and a lot of news to get to. We’re exactly thirty days out from the start of the Olympics in Sochi, and we have some quick ground rules before we get to the program. You can tweet all you want from here, but please silence your phones if you haven’t already. We have several news items that will come from today’s event, as well as a full overview of our plans for Sochi. I would encourage you to ask any questions of the panelists today. Many of them will still be available for a short period of time after the event, and some will be leaving soon for Russia. If you have questions, try to get them in while they’re on the panel, or we’ll try to get them immediately after the press conference today. If you ask questions during the briefing, please identify yourself and your affiliation. This is being live streamed. Microphones will be passed around to everyone involved. If we don’t have full answers to your questions today, we’ll get those for you before we get started in Sochi. Finally, please keep your questions related to the Olympics today, because we have a lot to get to. Anything that’s not on that topic we’ll cover in a different forum. NBC Sports Group Press Box.com is live-streaming this event right now, and has re-launched with our full Olympics media guide. All information is available there, and we’ll keep updating it throughout the Olympics. That’s all I have. Let’s go ahead and roll the tape.
JIMMY FALLON: Thank you very much, thank you, thank you so much. Thank you, thank you, please sit down.
Our keynote speaker, Michael Bay, could not be here tonight, so, I’m just going to wing this. [LAUGHTER] Thank you for joining us here as we celebrate the one month countdown to the winter Olympics right here on NBC. My name is Jimmy Fallon, I am starting the second week of the Olympics, on February 17th, to be exact, as the new host of the Tonight show with Jay Leno starring Jimmy Fallon. I’m very excited about this. It really is kind of kicking in now how exciting it is. A lot of people are asking me, is this a dream job of yours, is this your dream job? And the honest answer is, no, it could never be, I wouldn’t even think to dream about this job. Like, when you’re a kid, you watch Johnny Carson, you don’t think that he’s going to retire. He’s Johnny Carson, he’ll just be there forever. So, I never even thought that this was a job that you could want. My dream job was probably to work at IBM. [LAUGHS] Which was what my dad did, he fixed computers at IBM, so that was actually my dream job, I guess. The fact that this is happening, I’m a lucky guy, and it’s just really, really cool. I wish that Steve Allen was still around, you know, just so he could see what we’re doing with the show, and how much fun we’re having, because that’s what he would want. I think he would be so psyched, and be like, that’s what I was doing when I did the show! He was the first guy to sit in his giant bowl and pretend he’s a banana split and get ice cream on him and chocolate, he did that way before Letterman. I mean, he started the whole thing. I’m going to talk to the families, you know, before we start, just to tell them how much those guys inspired me. But I never knew I’d be here, I just kept falling upwards. [LAUGHS] It started here in Studio 8H, I don’t know if you’ve been here before, but this is where they shoot Saturday Night Live, and it is actually shot on Tuesdays at 2:30. [LAUGHTER] So this is an amazing time to be here. It’s about to start. So, I’m going to introduce to you guys the host and musical guest, Alan Wurtzel, come on up, if you want, Rick Cordella, Jim Bell, Bob Sex Machine Costas, what’s up, buddy, Gary Zenkel, Mark Lazarus, and last but not least, the CEO of NBC Universal, Steve Burke. [LAUGHTER] Did I say that right? Burke? Burke? Come on up, guys, please. How are you buddy, everything good? All right, thanks buddy. All right, I’m going to do my show. Bye, guys. Good to see you, Mark. Hi guys. Bye! Bye-bye, thanks!
So, I’m Steve Burke, in case you were wondering. Just to give you a sense for how important the Olympics are, we decided to launch the new Tonight show, which, doesn’t happen very often, out of the second week of the Olympics. We really had timed everything with the end of Jay Leno’s stewardship of the show, and the handover to happen, to take advantage of the fact that the biggest thing this company ever does is the Olympics. Hopefully we’re launching Jimmy’s new show in a way that will set it up for success for many years to come. I’ve been with NBC Universal for three years. We’re about at the three year anniversary of the deal that Comcast made with General Electric, and I often get asked, what’s your favorite moment? What’s the most interesting thing, or fun thing that’s happened since you got your job? And I always say the Olympics. To me it’s the defining event that this company has, and goes through. It’s almost impossible to overstate how much it means to NBC Universal, and also all of Comcast. For eighteen days, every single part of our company gets behind the Olympics. Every single cable channel promotes the Olympics, many of the cable channels have Olympic coverage. The entire Comcast footprint, twenty some odd million people that are part of the company, get behind the Olympics.
We use technology in ways that I don’t think any other company has ever used technology to broadcast the games in more different ways, and more different hours, and our team will take you through that. But also, to use social media and streaming. One of the most incredible sound bites I’ve heard is that the iPad did not exist in Vancouver, for the Vancouver Olympics. So, you think how much the world has changed. We have a plan for iPads, we have a plan for streaming media, we have a plan for social media. One of the things we’ve found is that if you want to have the biggest event in television, which the London Olympics were, you need to use all forms of distribution and technology. We’re very excited about it. We also think that we are uniquely capable of providing a great experience for our viewers. NBC has a very long history of telling stories, developing characters. Bob will talk about this, a very comprehensive and interesting way of getting people all around the same thing for an eighteen day period. I think you’ll see that. You’ll also see all the various different parts of the company embrace that and help promote that.
The final point I’ll make is that the Olympics then become a very important platform for our company. We’re launching the Tonight Show, as we talked about, out of the Olympics. We’ll spend a lot of time talking about our spring programming for NBC, and also some of our cable channels will highlight the Today Show, which we’re doing sort of a revamped and revitalized version of. As we lead up to the Olympics, hopefully they will be coming at a perfect time to set us up for the spring to keep the momentum that we think we’ve established in this company going. It couldn’t be more important to the company from a business point of view, but also the DNA, if companies have DNA, or a soul, the soul of this company is the Olympics. The people who are in charge of bringing it to the United States are here, and I look forward to this event. [I still remember when we did it for London, it really is such a fun part of what we all get to do at NBCUniversal. So with that, I’ll turn over to Mark Lazarus.
February 6th can’t get here fast enough. We are so excited, we’re getting ready to all move ourselves to Russia and do the best job we can delivering the games to the American people. Our plan is pretty straightforward, we’re going to deliver the most comprehensive coverage the Winter Olympics have ever had. We’re going to strive to be perfect, we probably won’t be in many of your eyes, not in everybody’s eyes certainly. We’ll probably read a little about it in social media and some other places, but we’re going to do the best job we can to deliver the best games we can across all platforms that works for us in our business, and works for fans and consumers. Today we want to talk to you about our plans across a number of platforms. We’ve already given you a lot of details about programming, about the hours, about who’s going to be on the air. It’s our hope that today will enable you to not just see those trees, but help us paint the whole forest in everything that we’re doing to bring these games to life.
Let’s start with the fact that every event is going to be available live online for the first time ever in a Winter Games. We did this in London, and it was a great success for us, and for fans and viewers. Most of the online coverage will be authenticated, and the reason is that we are moving towards a time when all of our sports, and all sports in general, are going to be authenticated in the very near future. We believe in it and are fully supporting the model, and it’s critical to who we are. We will not, however, stream the Opening Ceremonies on February the 7th. We will package that event for primetime. We think it’s very important that we package that event with all the Russian culture and history that’s being creatively expressed, much of that program might not make sense to viewers without the context that Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira are going to bring to that as they were announced as the hosts yesterday. We think it’s very important that we do that, and it’s the right model. It worked for us in London, and it’s going to work for us again. We will once again emphasize our packaged primetime show. The time difference doesn’t allow for us to be live in prime time, we will package and curate it in a way that makes it a place that huge gatherings of family and friends want to gather and get together in front of their TV. Between that and the twelve hours a day live on NBC Sports Network, we’re in a very good position to deliver the best events to the most viewers.
Where families gather, advertisers follow. And our ad sales are at an all-time record for the Winter Games. We previously said that we’re over eight hundred million, and we’re going north, we’re doing quite well. Marketers and sponsors are buying one of the very few events that gather large numbers across all demographics in front of their televisions. Our head of sales, Seth Winter, is here, and Linda Yaccarino is here if you want to talk more details about sales afterwards, they’ll be available for you to do that. Our marketing plan is also the biggest ever in Winter Games history. Steve mentioned how the whole company gets around the Olympics. We have something called Symphony. This is a gold Symphony priority. Our cross-channel activity is going to start next Monday on the thirteenth. We have developed, by the architect of that, John Miller our CMO, and eight tier plan, on channel, off channel, on line, in all forms of media. Whether it’s mass transit or other outlets, we will be everywhere for fans to know when to find us and how to find us and where to look for the Olympic Games. John will also be here if you have questions for him afterwards. As Steve mentioned NBCU promotes the games, all the entities of the company come together to promote the games. In turn, the Olympics promotes the rest of the company during the games, whether it’s NBC’s prime time lineup, or NBC’s brand new late night lineup, as Jimmy is so excited to start, we’re thrilled that he’s starting in the middle of the games.
We’re also going to use the Olympics to talk about our sports portfolio. 2013 was a great year for NBC sports. 2014 is off to a great start with record setting numbers for the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day, and two NFL playoff games just last weekend. off to a great start, and we have a lot more coming, and we’ll use the Olympics to let the US television and digital audiences know that. NBCSN will be in eighty five million homes as of February 1st. That’s new information. That is growth of some nearly five million homes over where it is just today. We’ll be in the final stages of our, and very successful, year with the English Premiere League coming out in March, April, and May. We have another installment of our outdoor hockey series, Stadium Series, live from Soldier, Soldier Field on March 1st. The NHL playoffs are coming as well. Our golf and championship seasons come right on the heels of the Olympics, as well as a brand new launch, a daily NASCAR show on NBCSN, as we build towards NASCAR’s coming to NBC and NBCSN next year.
Let’s shift gears to the news promo. Let me just say that we have spent a lot of time thinking about how we’re going to cover the news, and our partnership with NBC news makes this pretty easy and also a balancing act on how we’re going to work. We will cover any social issues, or political, issues as they are relevant to the games from a sports perspective. NBC News will be there in full force with all of their journalists and all of their shows to cover news items. We’ve been doing this on an ongoing basis, whether it’s related to security, or as you’ve already seen, as it relates to the LGBT situation that is in Russia. Safety of our employees, our freelancers, our guests, is our highest priority, and we take that very seriously. We have a full team of people there dedicated to making sure we are all there safe. Someone who’s spent a lot of time thinking about all that is Gary Zenkel. Gary is the President of the Olympics, has been working in the Olympic movement for NBC for decades now, a hundred years, hundred and fifty years. He’s racked up a lot of frequent flier miles going back and forth to Russia, and is now spending these last few days as we get ready, going over the literally thousands of details that he deals with to make sure, with his team, that our games are successful. Gary?
Thank you, Mark. I just wanted to give you a little sense of Sochi very quickly. I made my first trip there with a few colleagues right after the Beijing games in the fall of 2008. We got out of the airport and immediately went up to the mountains. We stayed at, I think, what was probably one of maybe two hotels, woke up, took a chairlift, the only chairlift certainly in sight, to essentially walk into a hut where we saw renderings of what the mountains were going to be like. We saw the diagrams of the venues, and we saw this very spectacular mountain village, none of which at that time existed. We took a helicopter down about twenty-five miles straight south to the Black Sea, to a town called Adler, that sits about twenty-five miles or kilometers to the east of downtown Sochi.
It was a farm, community of homes, and we saw a model of what was the vision for that portion of the Olympic games. Five years later, it has all truly come to life, and it is spectacular. The coastal cluster, they call it, or six venues that surround a meadows plaza creating an incredible Olympic park, nothing we’ve actually seen in a Winter Games before. The mountains resemble a really, really nice western US ski resort with venues that kind of straddle this valley that leads up to the Alpine and the extreme park at the top. It’s a spectacular setting, the Black Sea on one side, rolls up to the Caucasus Mountains just twenty-five kilometers to the north. And they’re ready.
We’re about two hundred and fifty people currently in Sochi, and that number will swell to about twenty-two hundred travelers. We’ll be joined by about four hundred and fifty Russians that will make up a team of about twenty-seven hundred NBC credentialed employees. The core team that is working on these Olympics that I started with back in ’92 is essentially, to a person, almost that core team that has been producing and organizing and engineering our coverage of the Olympics for these many parts of these past two decades. We’ve seen everything. We’ve seen construction delays, and we’ve seen games with security issues. We’ve seen games with social issues, and political issues that we didn’t agree with and were troubled by. But what has consistently prevailed at every Olympics is that massive parts of the American audience will again reassemble for the better part of sixteen, seventeen, in this case eighteen days, to watch the incredible and inspirational stories of Olympic athletes told by an incredible production team. This team is led behind the camera by Jim Bell, also a graduate of the ’92 Barcelona Olympic class, on ten, and then of course Bob Costas, America’s Olympic host, eleven for Bob, but we’ll make you the ’92 class too, because that’s when you began as our host. In any event, Bob?
Well, I’ll be brief here so that you can get to your questions. Just to amplify on some of what’s already been said, the Olympics are part of the culture of NBC. And it goes beyond the Olympics. You can see it in other events. The way we cover the Kentucky Derby, for example, and make a two or three hour broadcast out of what essentially is a two minute event. And yet, draw people who don’t know how to read a racing form into that event and get them involved in all the peripheral aspects, and all the human interest aspects, and all the back stories, which most of that audience does not know until the day of the race. But they’re invested. When the horses come to the post, they’re invested in it. And the same thing is true of an Olympics. The vast majority of Americans do not follow Olympic sports day in and day out the way they follow baseball or football or basketball. Whatever teams reach the Super Bowl, let’s say you’ve got a dark horse team like the San Diego Chargers, if the San Diego Chargers should reach the Super Bowl, even those who only knew Philip Rivers at the beginning of the season will know almost every player on the San Diego Chargers. It’s the nature of the way those sports are covered, and the way Americans follow those sports. You can’t cover and should not cover Olympic sports that way. You have got to familiarize people with the competitors. What are their back stories? How did they get there? Why should we care about them? What is at stake here? And to reemphasize something that is unique to the Olympics, whoever wins or loses the Super Bowl will be back in training camp in a few months. The Red Sox and the Cardinals will be at spring training barely a few weeks after we start these Olympic Games, just after the World Series concluded. But, for most of these athletes, it’s at most once every four years, and for many of them, it’s once in a lifetime. And they train and prepare in the shadows. Ninety-nine percent of those watching in the United States have no idea who most of these competitors, save a handful, are, until they begin to watch the Olympic games. Very often, what they’ve prepared most of their young lives for, plays out in the space of minutes and sometimes seconds. That’s what gives it a heightened drama that makes it so compelling. For my part, to be at times the front person, not the only one, but at times the front person for thousands of people who dedicated good portions of their lives to this, and who helped to prepare me and the other people on air for our roles, and have worked so hard and traveled the globe to prepare these stories, it’s not just an honor, it’s a responsibility to carry the ball for them. So we’re all looking forward to that a month from today.
I’m just curious as to how you think the social and political turmoil in the country right now will not only influence the coverage, but also the audience and the tune in factor here in the US?
MARK LAZARUS: “Let me just ask the question, social and political turmoil in this country, or in that country, in Russia?”
MARK LAZARUS: “It remains to be seen how it’s going to play out. We don’t know what’s going to happen in Sochi, so I cannot predict what news events will happen in the future. But we will cover anything that takes place during the games. That is, as Bob says…it’s part of our responsibility, and the full force of NBC News will be there to cover it from a news perspective. Our relationship and partnership with them, and obligation to them is that that is their job and their duty. And I’ll just speak to Jim Bell as our executive producer, who has a rich heritage in sports and Olympics, but also a lot of experience in news, is a very good position for us to be in as a sports division, to have someone who understands the sensibilities of both. “
BOB COSTAS: I think if anything, although obviously we have our fingers crossed that nothing happens, if anything, the prospect of a terrorist event, the controversy over the anti-gay laws, those things in an odd way have increased awareness and interest in these games. They don’t take the place of the competition, but I think people will be curious about that. And at the beginning, we’ll discharge our responsibility in a straightforward way, because framing those issues is part of the backdrop. It’s like describing what the weather is at a ball game, or what the crowd is like. You have to frame the circumstances under which these events are about to take place. Then you return to those issues if and when they impact the games. Mark also made an important point. I was lucky enough to be a friend of Jim McKay, and to a certain extent he was a mentor of mine. But, when the tragedy happened in 1972, in Munich, and Jim distinguished himself in such an exemplary way, the world was so different. There was no CNN, there was no ESPN, there was no social media, no internet. And in fact, the full force of ABC News wasn’t there. Jim McKay and a handful of colleagues were all the world had. And he rose to that occasion. If a circumstance remotely like that, and we pray that nothing like that happens, but if something like that should occur, I would be part of our coverage, but I would not be the only one, as Jim was. I’d be able to rely on Brian Williams, I’d be able to rely on Matt Lauer, I’d be able to rely on Richard Engel, David Remnick, Vladimir Pozner, and others whom we have brought with us to Sochi. So, we would have a full group of people there to cover the story. No one will ever find themselves in the position that Jim found himself in 1972. Since this subject came up and may not come again, I was quoted by Rachel Cohen, and accurately, a month or so ago, when she asked me about covering the anti-gay laws. I said I would rather interview Vladimir Putin about it than make my own comment about it. Somehow that statement, a straightforward statement, was misinterpreted by some as my saying I intended to steer clear of the subject. If Putin doesn’t drag his butt into the studio, then we’ll talk about it without him. But if he shows up, we’d rather talk to him. Wouldn’t you rather hear it from the horse’s mouth? I would. That’s what I was trying to say. “
The discussion is happening later in the day of when Lindsey Vonn dropped out. Obviously, she was going to be a star of your production, among many stars, but probably one of the biggest ones. How do you adjust, how do you feel about this, what will you do without her?
MARK LAZARUS: Well, first, we’re disappointed for her. She has dedicated her life to being an Olympian, and she is an Olympic star. We wish her well, and we hope that she recovers and can ski next year. How do we adjust? We change a little bit of our promotion, we change a little bit about coverage, we look for the next story. In Vancouver, and Joe, fact check me here, we won thirty-seven medals. Lindsey Vonn won two of them. Thirty of those medals were won by different people or teams. There’s a lot of depth and a lot of excitement about all sports, including the ski team, which has a lot of stars, whether it’s Julia Mancuso, or Ted Ligetey, or Bode Miller, on both men’s and women’s. So there’s a lot of excitement about the team. We will miss her. We wish her well, and we look forward to her getting back on the skis.
Do LGBT athletes at the Games present a particular point of interest to you as someone who obviously knows the history of Jesse Owens, but especially of Marty Glickman, who was left off the 1936 Games…
BOB COSTAS: Well no one is being left off because of their sexual orientation. But, if anyone who is prominent in any way, either by winning a medal, or being prominent in competition, decides to express him or herself, then I believe that that’s something that we would cover. If they choose not to make an issue of it themselves, if someone who happens to be gay wins a medal, I think that’s something you note. You just note it, because it’s of interest to the viewing audience. How big an issue you make of it depends upon the context and the way the whole thing plays out. But I do think it’s something that you can’t ignore, it’s significant should it occur, who’s part of the delegation is significant. It’s significant that Brian Boitano is there, that Billie Jean King is there. We’ll have to see who the flag bearers are, who some nations decide to put front and center and make kind of an unspoken statement in that way. We’ll have our eyes open for that.
You mentioned the other Americans… because of some of the injuries to prominent Americans, do you intend to make the coverage more international?
MARK LAZARUS: I think we’ll follow the same script, and Jim can talk about this later, we’ll follow the same path we have. We’re serving an American audience, but we’re also serving a multi-national audience here in the States. We do a pretty good job of showing the athletes that are stars, regardless of nationality, and we’ll continue to, to do that. But, I don’t think having one or two athletes who get injured, whether they’re Americans or not, really alters the approach to how you’re going to bring the coverage to the American television audience.
Another question on Lindsey…assuming all goes well with her surgery, is there any plans to approach her to be part of a broadcast team?
MARK LAZARUS: I think it’s pretty raw…her emotions, I mean, (she) had to make that announcement today…if she wanted to have that discussion, we’d certainly welcome that discussion. But it wouldn’t be something, at this point in time, that we would reach out to her. She’s got to go through surgery sometime in the next short period of time, and again, we wish her well and speedy recovery. But, if she chose to want to be there, be part of it in some way, we’d be very welcoming.
With Lindsey out, who becomes the face of NBC’s pre-coverage, the coverage leading up to February 6th?
MARK LAZARUS: You’ve probably seen it over the last few weeks, and whether it’s during the short track or the speed skating, you’ve seen Shani Davis and J.R. Celski, and from skiing you’ll see Mancuso and Ligety, you’ll see the USA hockey team and, and the Canadian hockey team, all of which have big NHL stars…Sean White who has been and will continue to be. There’s plenty of stars out there. Yes, we wish we still had Lindsey there, but we don’t. That’s the nature of sports. We all create sports television all the time, many, many days, and lots of stars unfortunately get injured and hurt. The one thing about the Olympics is that this is about the stories. This is about team, this is about country, this is about pride, and we think that we’re well positioned to tell those stories.
GARY ZENKEL: It’s worth noting that there isn’t an Olympics, certainly not one that I’ve experienced, where stories and athletes don’t emerge from even our deep research that we’ve done that has truly anticipated. Stars exist, but stars are more often made and born during the course of an Olympic Games. So, it’s really not an issue for us. I think Lindsey gives you great promotional value, and she’s an amazing athlete, and an amazing story. But there are amazing athletes that are going to be in Sochi, many of which we know, some of which we haven’t identified yet.
REBECCA LOWE: Ladies and gentleman, I’m Rebecca Lowe, I’ll be your emcee for the rest of the event. I host the Barclays Premiere League Coverage on NBC Sports Network, I’ll also be one of the daytime hosts for the Olympics in Sochi on NBCSN as well. I’m delighted to be here. This will be my first Olympic Games. Of course, growing up in, in England, I watched it, of course…Team GB though, not so good. We don’t have a lot of snow in England. Very few mountains as well. So, being a winter Olympian in the UK is not too easy. But, I’ve certainly enjoyed watching it from back there, and now I’m delighted to be a part of this huge production of an event which really touches so many people across the United States. As I said, I’ll be here all afternoon emceeing, I’ll also take any questions as well if anyone has any. But for now, it’s time to introduce America’s favorite television morning presenter, Matt Lauer.
MATT LAUER: Good afternoon everybody, thank you, I appreciate your being here. This is my eighth time covering the Olympics for NBC. And as a kid who grew up being a complete Olympic geek, this is a kick. I remember sitting around the living room with my family, with my sister, and my parents, when the Olympics would come on, we’d be glued to the set. That awful little color TV we had early on, didn’t matter if it was the winter games or the summer games, we were glued. If you remember, back then, it was a different time…I remember the opening ceremony was something I was particularly interested in. We’d gather in front of the set, and when the announcer, I was six or seven years old, when Costas would say, ‘Here comes…’ [LAUGHTER] ‘Here comes the team from Australia entering the studio, here comes the Russians…,’ I would get closer to the set. I wanted to know whether they looked like we look, they dressed like we dressed, they walked like us. I had not been to these countries. I probably hadn’t heard of half of the countries that these people were talking about. It was to me a history lesson, a geography lesson, a sports lesson all wrapped up in one fascinating event. And it still is to me. So, you fast forward now, and my eighth Olympics for NBC News, and I get a chance to cover these Olympics games. Since Beijing, with the honor of sitting next to Bob at the opening ceremonies, now I get to be the guy who says, here come the Americans, here come the Russians, here come the Australians. It’s an enormous thrill and honor. Some of the people up here this morning or this afternoon have already said, we go to these Olympics understanding that often times the Olympics create news, not only in the world of athletics, but outside that world, and that the news does not stop because the Olympics start. I remember my first games that I covered for NBC back in Atlanta, the summer games in Atlanta. Just a couple of days after the entire NBC News team landed in Atlanta, TWA flight 800 crashed, and we were sent scrambling. Many of us rushed back to New York to cover that big story, and by the time we got to Atlanta, a couple of days later, it was just a day or so after that, the Olympic Park bombing took place. So what do you do? You take a breath, and you pivot, and you cover many stories at the same time to the best of your ability. I think we all know as we head to Sochi that we’re in for an interesting ride. These are Olympic Games that are being hosted by a country that has a long and very complicated relationship with the United States, and they’re being hosted at a time and in a place, which is already being discussed right now, where there are a lot of groups that would like to take the opportunity of the Olympics to make a point, whether it’s a positive point or a negative point. So we go there with our eyes wide open, as the head of the Olympic Committee in the U.S. said the other day, based on the bombings in Russia over the last couple of weeks, it has our full attention. We will do the job of covering the news and the sports to the best of our ability. And we look forward to it.
Will you and Meredith also be doing the closing ceremony, or has that been determined at this point?
MATT LAUER: I’m going to leave that up to Mark. I will not be, I don’t know if Meredith is, I am not doing the closing ceremony. Meredith and I are doing the opening ceremony, absent Bob this time, because Bob starts on primetime the night before, so he’s got his plate full. We’re looking forward to the opening ceremony, but I’m not part of the closing ceremony.
And what are the thoughts behind not streaming the ceremony live when you do all the sports live, why can’t people have that opportunity to see that?
MARK LAZARUS: This is a ceremony, it’s a pageant, it’s a theater show – it is not a competition, and as such we think putting Matt and Meredith there, and putting the context to explain the history and tradition and culture, that’s going to be part of a better viewing experience. We’re looking to maximize viewing experience for our audiences… it is as simple as that. We think putting a big stadium streamed event, of which we’re taking largely a host feed, would not provide an audience with the full pageantry that the opening ceremonies deserves. We really believe that we want to put context to it, and that’s very important to us. We want to expose this in a way, and with the full pageantry that it deserves. Would it cut into viewing? I don’t know. Our research shows that many things, putting things online drives viewership later. We will definitely put some snippets of it out throughout the day, we’re not going to ignore it…we’re not going to ignore it like it didn’t happen.
And that will be the same for the closing ceremony as well?
MARK LAZARUS: Undetermined at this point. If you remember, in London we chose to stream the closing ceremonies, and we likely are leaning that way now. The closing ceremonies is much more of a party than a theatrical performance, and we think that that’s easier to express there.
Matt, have you and Al chosen which silly sport you’re going to compete in?
MATT LAUER: You know, we’re in a little bit of a quandary over this, to be perfectly honest with you, because I think we’ve exhausted the sports where you need absolutely no skill on our part to participate. Not to say the athletes who compete in those sports don’t need skill, because they do, but when you’re talking about the luge, for example, the two man luge, you could basically put sandbags on that luge and it will make it down to the bottom of the track, which is what we did with Al. I will tell you that the one memory that comes forward to my mind from the luge experience was one, that in the entire month of preparation, to get on the luge with Al, and getting to the track, it had never occurred to me, even one time, that I wouldn’t be on top. It had never, never… And so when we got there, and we were with the luge athletes, and we were in our Spandex feeling pretty bad about the cold weather, I remember the guy saying to me,’ OK Matt, get on the sled, get on the luge.’ And I thought, well no, Al’s going to go on the bottom, I’m going to be on the top of Al. He said, ‘No, that’s not the way it works.’ The first time it ever dawned on me that Al would be the navigator. And I will tell you, in the short time we were on that luge track, Al’s job was to steer, we hit every wall possible at sixty miles an hour. So, I probably won’t be doing that again…it was mentioned before that for many years, it’s a great combination going to Sochi between these experienced people, experienced people in the sports end of things, and us on the news side of things. The guy who was our executive producer at the Today Show for about eight years, was a terrific news mind and a terrific sports mind, is Jim Bell. A year or so ago he switched over from our show, and he is now the executive producer of NBC’s coverage of the Olympics, and I’d like to bring Jim up here.
JIM BELL: Thank you, Matt. With the setting being the biggest country in the world, it’s only fitting that the Sochi Olympics are set to be the biggest Winter Olympics ever. They’ve added new sports, as has been mentioned, ninety-eight events, and a lot of these designed to appeal to a younger audience. The games are so big, in fact, that we had to add the aforementioned extra night of primetime, ahead of the Opening Ceremony. Thursday night, February 6th. We’re really excited, it’s a unique opportunity for us to get the word out ahead, some real competition ahead of time. You’re going to see some team figure skating, one of the new events, the snowboard slopestyle event, Shaun White, and the women’s freestyle moguls. So those are new things for us in Sochi, to have a full night of competition before the Opening Ceremony, we think it’s terrific.
The night of the Opening Ceremony, as has been mentioned, Matt and Meredith will take us through with David Remnick. In keeping with the big theme, I can share that it is a huge show. It’s taking some real risks, and provides a window into what is still for many, foreign land. For these athletes, that night is really, for many of them, the signature moment of the games, a moment of a lifetime. I think given all the news that’s been leading up to these games, it’s safe to say that night, all eyes will be on President Putin, in his box. I can’t imagine a better team to express the range of emotions and topics that are going to be at play that night, trying to get that balance just right, depending on what happens. We’re also going to be getting a unique window into Russia throughout the games, through the unique eyes of one Mary Carillo, who will share some of her experiences in the host country, leading up to the games.
Nicely done, Mary… we’ll take you through a little bit of our programming days. A typical programming day on NBC network, you’ll see Lester Holt anchoring coverage during the afternoons from 3-5, with Bob handling primetime, and late night duties on the weekends. When Lester is involved with weekend Today, Al Michaels will come over and host our coverage on NBC. NBC Sports Network is really the live sports hub for the games, with all of the figure skating live, along with many of the sports. Rebecca Lowe, Al Michaels, Dan Patrick will split hosting duties at 3 a.m.for our Olympic junkies. There’ll be other Olympics live on USA, MSNBC, CNBC, and of course, we are streaming everything live, all competition, live. We have the big ticket winter sports that everybody knows and has grown up with: ice hockey, skiing, skating. But they’re now surrounded by a new generation of athleticism that is very exciting. It’s a great marriage of traditional and cutting edge competition. And it gives us more opportunities for more medals, and more powerful storytelling, like this look at a Canadian mogul skier.
What went into the decision to show all the figure skating live, and was that a difficult decision, to take that step from live streaming to live TV?
JIM BELL: It wasn’t a difficult step. I mean, it was a process that we talked about, and took a big leap in London, with the live stream, and wanted to continue moving forward and taking another step. Figure skating made the most sense, particularly the Winter Olympics, because it’s a lot of programming. It’s one of the crown jewels of the Winter Olympic sports. It’s great for NBC, NBCSN, and it’s weather proof. It’s not like any of the other sports up on the mountains, where we could run into some issues there.
We heard about the need to help NBCU as a business. With this broadcast, it’s important to a lot of parts of the company. What’s the balance in your mind between promoting a lot of the different properties during the programming, and broadcasting the event itself?
JIM BELL: Well, I think we have a pretty good sense of it, when we’re there. We’ve got so many platforms to cover, and we know going in…for example, we’re going to be launching Fallon, that’s a big priority for us. We know coming out of that, we’re going to be launching Seth Meyers, and there’ll be other programming decisions that get made. We feel pretty comfortable at the moment. It really hasn’t been a big issue for us in the past.
Last time, there was that whole Animal Practice event that people got upset about broadcasting that in advance of the closing ceremony.
JIM BELL: Yeah, I think that’s something we probably would take a do-over on if we could. I think that was something that, in the heat of the moment we felt was the right call…Mark said, we’ll try to be perfect, but we won’t always be.
How many, profiles, vignettes, pieces have you guys put together for broadcast, as opposed to, or, and on the digital platforms?
One thing you guys didn’t have in London was the huge new Stamford facility. How are you guys utilizing that, from a production resources standpoint? How much of the work is being done there, vs. in Sochi? And how does it kind of benefit you guys?
JIM BELL: There’s still a lot in Sochi. In a place that far away, it’s important to have a big footprint, and we sure do. But there’ll be a considerable amount of stuff happening back in Stamford, editing studio facilities…we’re definitely going to take advantage of that. I think you’ll see more of that as the Olympics progress here. Alright, with that, I will segue to bring out my friend Mary Carillo with a special guest.
MARY CARILLO: We do have a special guest. There she is. Nancy Kerrigan’s in the house.
NANCY KERRIGAN: Hi. [APPLAUSE] Thank you.
JIM BELL: I’m very happy to announce that Nancy is going to be joining us in Sochi, working on our coverage. She’s going to be working, as was mentioned, on all the figure skating coverage we have, and other outlets…The Today Show, Access Hollywood…I’ve to my counterparts at those respective shows, and they’re thrilled to have her onboard.
NANCY KERRIGAN: I’m thrilled to be part of the Olympics again, in any capacity, because it is truly an amazing event, and to be able to see stories like what we just saw, I was glad you didn’t call me sooner, because I thought, ‘Does someone have a tissue…’ And these stories, and things you learn about people, and to be able to be inspired by people that are on the playing field, and off, and it’s just a great thing to be able to be a part of, so I’m thrilled to be part of the team.
MARY CARILLO: We’ve also been working on a long form story on the fact that it’s twenty years in Sochi since Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan…the famous clubbing of the right knee, that created an incredible amount of publicity and interest in the sport. It was the beginning of reality television, really. This was pre-O.J., pre- the Bronco going down the highway… this is when cable was just getting very, very big. And really, in a six-week period, from the time Nancy was attacked… she had to rehab, she had to try out, to get on the Olympic team. Tonya Harding had to sue the USOC for twenty-five million dollars to stay on the team… then within a couple of weeks, they show up in Lillehammer, Norway. A lot of you in this room probably remember that it was one of the biggest sporting events in television history. 48.5 was the rating. That doesn’t happen anymore. That’s every other person in North America…what we tried to do, really more than anything, is a character study…now they’re both in their forties, they’re both married, they both have children. And we wanted to basically take a look back, and see what their lives are like now. And it took years to convince Nancy. I’m not kidding. It took years to convince her to say yes…Tonya Harding has been very public for twenty years, and she has used her fame and her infamy to get all kinds of things. She was in a movie, she was on a TV show, she boxed, you know, celebrity boxing… but this one really stayed very quiet, and I understand that. They had both become some kind of a punch line…
NANCY KERRIGAN: Oh, I got to be in a movie, and do TV shows and stuff, too. [LAUGHS]
MARY CARILLO: Well that’s true, too. But Nancy never wanted to speak about this event… and I understand, of course.
NANCY KERRIGAN: It’s not something you celebrate, being attacked, you know.
MARY CARILLO: Right. But finally she relented, and I’m very glad she did. So anyway, we’re going to be watching that during the Olympics.
Nancy, what are you going to be doing…any analyzing of the skating events at all? Can you describe more about this long form program that you’re going to be doing regarding the events of twenty years ago?
NANCY KERRIGAN: I’m not sure how to sum it up, exactly what I’m going to be doing. I’ll be doing some analyzing, but not color commentary. I’ll be a part of The Today Show and Access Hollywood, and wherever they put me, and wherever they want to see me. I’m sort of at NBC’s disposal, to use me wherever, whatever shows they want, which is really exciting. I feel like I’ll be able to be doing a lot of different things, and that’s exciting, to not just only be at the ice rink, but to be able to be a part and see more of the Olympic Games.
What convinced you to do it this time?
NANCY KERRIGAN: Um, well, I was asked. [LAUGHTER] That helped. I went to the last two Olympics, working for somebody else, which was really hard because I had no credentials. [LAUGHS] And so, it was a challenge to create stories, and make stories, and come up with ideas with the producers. Having the access with, and working with NBC on different things, I think will be a lot more fun, to be able to be a part of the whole Olympic games.
Nancy, what persuaded you to be involved in the long form program, if you were so reluctant to participate before? Was Nancy just an, was Mary just an incredible…
MARY CARILLO: I’m a pest, yeah.
NANCY KERRIGAN: Um…. [CHUCKLES] I wouldn’t quite say that. But, you know, after meeting with Mary, and Margaret on the show…
MARY CARILLO: Margaret is the producer. Just letting you know.
NANCY KERRIGAN: …and what, what they thought about what had happened, and their perspective…I was nervous to know how things would get twisted and turned, because that’s happened before…I had done interviews in the past, in ’94, where I would leave, and my mom would say, ‘Wow, that was a great interview,’and then we’d see it, and the questions were different, so the answers sound different…and so it all played differently. That always made me reluctant to be a part of something. But I have trust in Mary and Margaret, and into really just telling the story, you know, from my perspective, and other perspectives.
Do you have any thoughts on the sort of state of American figure skating, with no sort of women, as the favorites in the medal race, and now that Evan’s out, probably no me as favorites, in, at least the singles?
NANCY KERRIGAN: I would never count them out, per se… look at what happened with Sarah Hughes. She was not favored to win, and she had this huge upset, and it was really exciting… just an amazing moment for her, for figure skating, and the Olympic Games. To see someone that they don’t expect to win, to come up and all of a sudden give their best performance ever was phenomenal. So you can’t ever say, you know, they’re not necessarily expected. I mean, in ’93, I had been third in the world, and in’91, they were not calling me one of the favorites to medal in ’92, which I didn’t really understand… ifyou’re third in the world, why wouldn’t I be expected to maybe get a medal in the Olympics? So…you never know. It always sort of comes down to that day, especially with the new rules that are in place… they can’t just go on merit. It has to be shown that day. In skating, there’s a lot of training involved, obviously, but anyone can have a bad day, so you just never know what’s going to happen. I wouldn’t count anyone out…Ashley Wagner, our current national champion, is looking really strong. We just did a show with her, which will be airing on February 1st, and she looked really strong, very good. She seems really prepared and confident. I think mainly, she’s going in there, feeling confident…and Gracie Gold is a beautiful skater, and really has a lot of qualities, the jumping and the grace and beauty, all put together. She’s a classic looking girl on the ice…so I wouldn’t count them out, that’s for sure.
GARY ZENKEL: The digital story for 2014 is one of both technical and coverage growth. Back in Vancouver, we live streamed only two events. In Sochi, we will live stream from all fifteen venues. Rick is going to talk about a site refresh. Streaming and mobile video didn’t happen back in 2010, and of course, we will now live stream the entire Olympic Games. As Steve mentioned, the tablet computer, and it’s hard to fathom this, but the tablet computer had not hit the market in February of 2010. It is now in roughly a third of the adults in the United States. What we saw in London is that the consumption of video on a tablet is actually two times the consumption of video on a smart phone. So we see an enormous increase of the consumption of digital video in the Sochi Olympics. Then, we introduce for the first time, original programming on our digital platforms. You saw an indication of what that might be the Olympic Gold Zone. I also want to just talk about social media very quickly. We all saw, and I know you guys saw very clearly, the explosion of the social conversation around the London Games, as it really happens with respect to every event. If you think back to 2010 in Vancouver, Twitter had about seventeen million users, Facebook had about a hundred million. You now fast forward to today, Facebook’s up to two hundred million, Twitter’s up to about sixty million, and the volume of either tweets or posts are eight times as much on Twitter, five times as much on Facebook, from that time to now. If you accept the theory, and I think Alan certainly does, and we’ll talk about it, that all of that social conversation, coupled with all the circulation of our content through digital sources and linear television program, was really helped and fueled by the electronic “water cooler bullhorn” of social media. I think it sets us up incredibly well to take full advantage, again, of our digital products for Sochi.
RICK CORDELLA: Absolutely. We did site refresh this time around. I think we thought about it and said, ‘What should a website look like in 2014?’ Take a look at what we did in London 2012, it looks very much like every other website out there. We rarely discover that… we knew this, but we’re a live streaming business. People come to NBC Olympics for video, for the great work that Jim and his entire team does, as well as the hosts who we put out there. We want to scream from the mountaintops about what we have, what is on right now. …get you to the content you want, as quickly as you possibly can. You have the ability to go two at the very top, you have the ability to go one at the very top, you have the ability to go three at the very top. So you can get the content you want, as quickly as possible, which is a big, big thing we’re striving for. Also, one thing I think that we learned in London is the viral content that pops up, whether it’s poor Stephan Feck, the German diver that fell on his back, or it’s anything that happens during the Olympics, viral video is what people want to find, and there wasn’t a great way to service it up on the London website. This time around, we’ve created this must-see bar in the left hand side, where you’ll be able to find all this content, each and every day. Again, think about how you consume content in this day and age. It’s not just all editorially driven. It is in, a lot of times, it’s in reverse chronological order. It’s like Twitter, it’s like Facebook, it’s like blogs. You want to come to this site multiple times a day, often, and catch up on what you missed. So putting in that order, you’re able to come to this website, and that center column will essentially go back in time. If you show up on Day 17 or Day 18, you can go back and see the story lines all the way from the very beginning, in reverse chronological order.
NBC Sports Live Extra. This is the home to all the NBC Sports programming. Over fifteen hundred events are on NBCSports.com throughout the year. The same technology that we’re using today, the same technology we use in English Premier League, the same technology we used last Saturday for our record-setting Wild Card weekend, is what we’re using for the Olympics. It’s tried and true technology. We want to make sure people know what this is, and we’ll stream all thousand hours through this during the Olympic Games. Here are a couple screen shots of the redesign of the Live Extra app, that we launched just prior to the games. As you can see, it’s a little more iOS 7 design to it than we have currently right now. We also had that same schedule, so again, you move back in reverse chronological order. Look at all the events as they take place, both long form as well as highlights. You’re also able to look at reminders, email alerts, iPad alerts, as well as set your DVR for some subscribers.
The second app is an NBC Highlights and Results app, and it does what its name says. It’s highlights and results, as well as schedules and news. A section of this app, though, is the Primetime Companion. I would think it’s one of the big successes we had in London. During primetime, there’s no content being streamed, everything is dark in Sochi. You’re able to pull this up, and with the surface up, all the content we have produced, at the right time. If Lolo Jones is ready to go down the bobsled, we can surface up her Beijing run. We can surface up her London run…the profile that was run years ago, to put it at your fingertips, at the exact right time. This is all produced by our team back in Stanford.
One of the things I’m most excited about, and it’s a bit different this time, is the original programming that Gary mentioned. We’ll have an Olympic News Desk, and to your question earlier about what’s happening back in Stamford, all of this is happening back in Stamford. So our digital set that we have, the IBC in Stamford, is what we’ll use for this. The news desk, periodic updates throughout the day, what’s happening in Sochi. We’ll have a host there that will give you up to dates. Olympic Ice is a half-hour program that runs on days of figure skating. Fifteen days, each day around 5:30 p.m. ET, we’ll release this piece of content. Sarah Hughes will help be an analyst on it. One thing I’m most excited about is the Gold Zone, which you saw a piece of there. Stealing a little bit of what the Red Zone is for the NFL, a whip around show bringing you from event to event, live look-ins, analysis. It’s serving the fan that doesn’t necessarily know where to go. It’s saying, ‘This is important now, take a look what’s happening.’ We’ve hired Andrew Siciliano of DirecTV, who hosts the Red Zone for them, to host this for us.
The digital tunnel, or however you’re sending the stream, will that prevent the slowness that I experienced, and some others did…
RICK CORDELLA: I’m going to over to your house and make sure your computer is up to date this time around.
…You know, in the year since, have you learned the lessons of that?
RICK CORDELLA: I read Twitter and social media, and I certainly read your columns and the issues that you had. We had great success in London. There were issues that do start out, as you typically are, and we worked out those kinks. The numbers that we had for London were mind-blowing. We had twenty million hours of streams. We did 186 million streams. For the Gold Medal women’s soccer game, there were 700,000 currently watching this. So I don’t think everyone experienced what you experienced, but certainly there were some. I think in this day and age, it’s not your television set, there will always be issues somewhere along the chain. We do the very best we can. I think over the last year and half since London, we’ve built up that technology, we’ve tested it, we’re tried and true. We handled a significant amount of load just last Saturday on the Wild Card Weekend, and I didn’t have an quality issues to speak of at all. So I’m pretty confident that we’re going have a great experience for you, come Sochi.
Can you expand a little bit on Gold Zone? What was the impetus behind launching that, and when do you expect it to be most active?
RICK CORDELLA: If you’re an NFL fan, you love Red Zone. I’m glued to it each and every week. It’s probably the best product in the sports sphere that’s come out in a long, long time. We had something for London. It wasn’t hosted, it was someone sitting behind a switchboard, switching you around. I think that we need that host to sort of help give you some context of where you’re going, and why it’s important. This time around, we felt like investing into it. It’s going to be active between 7-8 a.m., it’ll come aboard, and then go dark around 3 p.m. We’re not going to have it on the overrun hours, when most people are probably sleeping, but we’ll have it during the daylight hours of the United States. I really I think it’s an exciting product, because…primetime gives you the context around the athletes, around the events…to have a host do that during the day, I think is really important and innovative.
GARY ZENKEL: Our goal is to maximize the circulation of our content, and drive up consumption. Because what we have seen is, the more consumption of the Olympics during the day, ultimately the more primetime viewing. We think the Gold Zone is simply another way in which the Olympics can be consumed, for those who want a more lean-back experience…and allow us to take you and walk you through what is cresting at that moment in Sochi…that is what this product is all about. We’re excited to see how it’s consumed at Sochi.
Like the Gold Zone, or some of that programming, is there anything set up to where that could possibly migrate to television?
GARY ZENKEL: It isn’t today. We launched this for the first time, we had a rawer version of it in Vancouver. As technology advances, so does the way in which we distribute our coverage advances. I will not attempt to predict where the future has this, but we are very excited to see what the behavior is around a product like this, this time around.
Is Gold Zone going to have ad placement? Andrew Siciliano is on DirecTV, there’s no ads, but I would think that that’s pretty integral to the service.
RICK CORDELLA: There will be ad placement. There’s ad placement in all of our host streams, correct.
REBECCA LOWE: Gary, Rick, thank you very much indeed. Okay, last but my no means least, let me call up to the stage, our NBCUniversal research executive, Alan Wurtzel.
ALAN WURTZEL: Thank you, Rebecca. I have breaking research news, and that is not an oxymoron. As we walked in here today, I got a note that the Pew Institute just released a study on what Americans are looking forward to most in the short term. And the number one thing they’re looking forward to is the Winter Olympics. Number two, the Super Bowl. So, to ask the question about, do people care? Do they know about it? Are they looking forward to it? I think the answer’s yes. And that’s not my research, by the way, because if it was my research… oh, and the other thing I found interesting was that those two things far exceeded people looking forward to the mid-year election. So I do believe that’s true.
It’s obvious that these Olympics are an amazing sports event. But as Rebecca said, as the official resident research geek at NBC, I kind of look at this thing slightly differently. I look at it as an amazing research lab, where we learn so much, not just about how people consume the Olympics, and try to help Gary and Mark and the rest of the team do the best thing for what the audience wants. But more importantly, in some ways, it’s a glimpse into the future…to understand how the consumer will be behaving, not just about the Olympics, but with media in general…and also, can we measure this stuff? Because at the end of the day, as all of you know, cross-platform measurement is really something critical. And that’s how we came up with this idea of the billion dollar lab. I do want to say that it’s not…some people said to me, you get a billion dollars to do this research? Well, the answer’s not in, you know, that’s what the company paid for this. But that gives us a wonderful opportunity. So let me explain to you a little bit about, you know, what’s the deal with this billion dollar lab.
Here’s the reason why we can measure the future. First of all, it’s a huge amount of content across all the platforms, all four big platforms. Secondly, it basically is an extraordinary scale of consumer consumption. It amplifies the way people are behaving in ways that they normally don’t do. The third thing is that it’s across eighteen days. You can look at any one event, whether it’s the Golden Globes this Sunday, or the Academy Awards, or the Super Bowl – it’s one day. When you look at eighteen days, you begin to see patterns of behavior emerge which are really, really interesting. It accelerates consumers’ behavior. And finally, it increases what we call the measurable effect. We can begin to measure things that you can’t measure in the real world. And we’ve learned a lot. So let me just very quickly, because I know I’m the only thing between you and getting out of here is a little bit of a walk down billion dollar memory lane.
We began this thing in 2008 at the Beijing Olympics. Here is what some of the leanings were. First of all, we were able to measure across three platforms, and that was really extraordinary. Nobody was doing that…forget about Nielsen…I mean, nobody was able to do that. The second thing we learned is that, you know, they’re all my children, but TV was king. That was where people were basically getting all of their Olympic coverage from. We learned, frankly, that streaming and mobile were not ready for primetime. We learned, as Gary said, it began that digital platforms began to increase younger viewers’ interest in the Olympics, and that was really, really important. From a social standpoint, we learned that forty-six percent of Americans said they changed their routines. And my favorite metric, one third of people decided they would delay doing their laundry, and you know who you are. So that was some sense about how the Olympics played out in 2008.
Just two years later in Vancouver, we learned something that sounds so silly today, but it was that we went from WAP, which was the mobile miniature website, to apps. And you go, hello? I mean, an app? But don’t forget, in those days, there was no tablet, as everybody said. There were very, very few smartphones. And there were about twenty-five thousand apps in the iTunes store. But the fact of the matter was, what we saw was that people were forgetting all about the web, and going directly to apps, and it was a clear indication of what the future was going be. We also began to see a lot of simultaneous, multi-platform use. And again, what we learned was that the more screens people used, the more use they had overall. We found that mobile was becoming mainstream, although again, it’s just amazing that there were no tablets then. Half the country wound up changing their routine. And as far as that laundry thing’s concerned, it went up to forty-six percent.
So, now we go to London, and that’s where you have to get a perspective on the time. It was really only two years ago. These are some of the things that we began to learn from London. The first thing was, that TV is still king. About ninety percent of Olympic content was still consumed on television. Another eleven percent on digital. But what’s so important, when people say, ‘How are you doing? What are the ratings for the Olympics?’ As somebody said earlier, you can’t just think about TV. Because the Olympics is now a multi-platform consumed event.
The other thing that we learned was that the more screens people had, the more time they spent on every device. If people only used the TV to watch the Olympics, they spent about four hours on a daily basis, watching the Olympics. If they began to use TV and a PC or a laptop, the total time increased to five hours, but notice that the time they spent with TV actually increased as well. Now you get into some of these power users. TV, PC, and a third device, most likely mobile. Their total time was six hours. And if you get into that platinum user that I think of, if they had four devices, PC, laptop, mobile and a tablet, that wound up spending about eight hours a day. What’s so interesting is that the time they spent with television, what I like to think of as the mothership – that increased, which is great. But also, the total time they spent with the Olympics actually doubled.
The other thing we learned is the rise of what we call the sim viewer, the simultaneous viewer. Now, everybody in this room, I’m sure, watches TV, and has something in their hand, and you’re surfing the web, or you’re on Facebook, or you’re checking your email. When I think of a sim viewer, I’m talking about somebody who was consuming Olympic content on TV, and Olympic content on at least one other device. And that really is, for our purposes, kind of the gold standard. What we found out is that the percentage of those who consume the Olympics, on both TV and one other platform, during Vancouver, was about thirty-two percent of total people, one third. Two years later, when we went to London, that increased to fifty-four percent, half. What’s it going to be in Sochi? Your guess is as good as mine, but I’ll bet you a week’s pay, it’s going have a six in front of it. I think it’ll be at least about two thirds of the people will be what we consider to be simultaneous viewers.
There other thing we learned…we’re the first tablet Olympics. Gary alluded to this earlier. What we found was that even then, tablets were in a relatively small proportion of people’s hands. You can see smartphones dwarfed the number of people that had tablets. But when it came to usage, just take a look at this, and you see that far more people were actually spending time on the tablet, even though there were fewer of them. I just think it’s very clear that tablets are going to be a huge factor in the Olympics today.
The other thing we learned was that there was a huge growth in streaming and mobile. I mean, main streaming is really what it’s all about. Mobile access to content is no longer twenty-five year olds who wear black and live in Williamsburg. I mean, it really has progressed to everybody. And again, take a look at the numbers. The percentage of people using mobile at Beijing was fifty percent of them were under 34 years old. And the remainder were obviously thirty-seven percent 35-49 and fifteen percent of 50-plus. I use 50-lus as kind of a marker of mainstreaming. Two years later, we get into Vancouver, and the number of younger users goes down to thirty-seven percent, again, as a proportion, because thirty-seven percent of 35-49s but the 50-plus group grew to twenty-seven percent. And then we get into London, and as you can see, the third of the total usage was by younger people, and then the 35-49 year olds were thirty-two percent, but take a look at 50-plus, it’s one third. Again, I can just promise you that that the usage of that is going to grow. But I think the proportion is going to remain very, very similar. Finally, the whole thing about social viewing, it really did drive a huge amount of engagement and a huge amount of viewing. Ninety-nine percent, this is stunning, this isn’t my research, this is research done by a company called Blue Fin, and basically they look and see where the chatter about TV buzz is taking place…well, during the Olympics, from seven o’clock at night until midnight, ninety-nine percent of all social TV buzz was attributed to NBC’s Olympic coverage. Finally, can’t leave without those metrics, fifty-three percent changed their routine. And you know, we’ve become a much dirtier country with forty-six percent delaying their laundry. As I mentioned to you, and I’m going to end on this – cross-platform is like the Holy Grail when it comes to this industry in general, not just about the Olympics. One of the things that we’ve been able to do, and it was limited, because we looked at the Olympics, is really measure TV, internet, and mobile.
Going back to 2008, this is an example of what it looked like – a guy in Chicago, thirty-three years old, this is how he was using the NBC Network, that’s in blue. You can see in the bottom, no surprise, primetime. Then, Olympics.com, while he was at work. And that was 2008. Now, you flash forward two years to 2010, a day in the life of a media person during the Vancouver Olympics in San Francisco. A San Francisco father of two, just an example. And you can see, there was some periodic uses of the digital platforms earlier in the day, when the guy was at work, he watched the men’s hockey game that was streamed, and then when he got home, as you can see, he was mainly watching network TV. But, he had some simultaneous multi-platform kinds of usage. OK, so here we go to London, and you might have head the story about the LA Congresswoman who said we got to shut down Olympic access, or internet access to all of LA offices that were doing city business, because nobody, she felt, was conducting business. Well, the fact of the matter is, this woman was absolutely right. Here’s an example of a Los Angeles working mom, forty-one years old, and this was her Olympic consumption for this particular day. She started off in the morning with a variety of digital kinds of activities, and so much of what she was doing, watching the Olympics, was at least one screen. And you can see, when she was at work, she was a part-time worker, from 12-2, she was all over the place. The other thing I think is really fascinating, and Gary mentioned this also, is that, the consumption of streaming videos during the day can actually fuel viewing at night. If you take a look at 12 p.m., she was watching the live stream of swimming at the office. She went home that night, and she watched the primetime version of swimming on NBC Television. I know that this chart will become increasingly complicated in Sochi. What are we looking forward to in Sochi? Well, again, I think what you’re going to see is cross-platform use is going to become even more mainstream and more pervasive. Tablets, a huge role. The simultaneous viewer will increase across all platforms. Mobile, a primary platform for consumption of it. And finally, the shared experience of social media will create a huge amount of buzz. So, these are the kinds of things we’re looking for. We’re going to be trying to find some of these tidbits during the Olympics, and I invite you to ask us about anything that we find during the games, and we’ll certainly be happy to share these things with you at the end of the Games. So thanks, and happy cross-platform viewing.
REBECCA LOWE: OK, well everybody, thank you so much for attending. Of course everybody will be available, if you spoke up here today, in the coming minutes. So, do talk to us if you have any more questions, and we hope you enjoyed it. Thank you!