FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 17th, 2018
NBC OLYMPICS PRESS PREVIEW TRANSCRIPT
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Greg Hughes, Mark Lazarus, Jenny Storms, Jim Bell, Mike Tirico, Katie Couric, Dave Chang
Greg Hughes: Good morning, everybody. Thanks for being here. This morning we’re going to talk a little about the Super Bowl and a lot about the upcoming Olympics. This is being recorded. Please no video or audio recordings while you’re here in the room. Please keep your questions focused on the Super Bowl and the Olympics today. If there are other questions that are outside of those subjects, let me or my team know. We’ll be happy to take care of those offline.
Some of the panelists have to depart fairly soon after the presentation, so during a couple of the panels you’ll see this morning, we’ll have some Q & A. Please ask your questions there because I can’t guarantee that they’ll be accessible afterward.
A transcript from this event will be available on NBCsportsgrouppressbox.com shortly afterwards, so if you want something from that, let us know. Coming up after this brief tape to open the presentation will be Mark Lazarus, the chairman of broadcast and sports for NBC Universal. Roll the tape.
Mark Lazarus: Thank you all for being here. We’re about to embark on what we’re calling the Best Feb Ever. Actually the Best Feb Ever starts the last week of January with the NHL All-Star weekend in Tampa, and then it’s on to two huge global events which will underscore the power of live sports, and I really want to stress that word live, and you’ll hear a lot about that today.
The Super Bowl, on Sunday, February 4th, and then the winter Olympics are live in primetime starting on February the 8th. Having these two global events so close together allow us to market, package and sell them, giving marketers a very unique opportunity.
This is our 19th Super Bowl in what has become the biggest day in U.S. television each year. Super Bowl LII will be produced by our incomparable Sunday Night Football crew. Sunday Night Football recently finished the fall as primetime TV’s No. 1 show and is on pace to finish for a record seventh consecutive time No. 1 in all of television. Never been done before.
On Super Bowl Sunday, we’ll start the day The Today Show, live interaction between New York and Minneapolis, and then later, the Road to the Super Bowl, our Super Bowl pregame show, and then of course Super Bowl LII.
Now, Super Bowl LII will be available both in English and in Spanish. Following the game, on what is a terrific day for us, we’ll have a very special episode of This is Us, the hit show, and a live Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon live from Minneapolis.
Our Super Bowl production will have a number of innovations, including a first-ever use of the dual Skycam system featuring the Highcam during the Super Bowl. That camera will be 45 to 60 feet above the field. In addition, we’ll debut for the first time here in the United States 3D imaging of key players from each team, an all-new graphics package, and all of this will get started with a special Super Bowl Open featuring Carrie Underwood’s new song. Our Super Bowl team, the best in the business, is led by Fred Gaudelli and Drew Esocoff, and of course, Al, Cris and Michele will be there to call all of the action.
Yesterday we announced Dale Earnhardt, Jr., will be making his NBC debut at the Super Bowl. He’ll be doing some very colorful things there and then on at the Olympics, as well.
After we’re in Minneapolis it’s off to the Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. And I think this is important; the Olympics are proving again to be better than politics to bring the world together, even if only for a brief period.
We’ll be able to take advantage of the 14-hour time difference to show more live Winter Games coverage in primetime than ever before. So what does that mean? That means live figure skating 12 out of 18 nights in primetime, live skiing, 11 out of 18 nights in primetime. And for the first time, our primetime coverage will be live across all time zones here in the United States.
Across the entire platform, all the platforms of NBCUniversal will present more than 2,400 hours of coverage, a record for a Winter Games. For both the Super Bowl and the Olympics, we expect to hit ad sales records. For the Super Bowl, what does that mean? That means a single-day revenue record for any media company, and for the first time, the network will average more than $5 million a spot. A huge credit goes to Dan Lovinger and the team for selling both of these events. Dan leads sports as part of Linda Yaccarino’s incredible sales team, and we thank them and applaud them for their efforts.
Our coverage of PyeongChang will include cable and primetime alongside NBC Broadcast Network. This is a first for a Winter Games. So we’ll have NBC Broadcast, our cable networks and digital. Now, all of this will be counted and reported as one measurement, which is how they’ve been sold. We’ll be using a viewership metric known as TAD, total audience delivery, to measure viewership across every platform. This is something we first used in Rio in 2016, and it is fast becoming the industry standard for measurement.
As always, we’ll have the full company support through Symphony to promote both of these great events, and this is NBC’s biggest run of Symphony for an Olympic campaign. Simply put, Symphony is the unparalleled reach and scale of NBCUniversal in full bloom.
In return for all of that, coming to the Olympics and Super Bowl, we’ll pay back our colleagues by using these great events and these large audiences and the audiences that we’re generating to promote other properties like This is Us following the Super Bowl, like The Today Show and Nightly News leading into and out of the Games, as well as our theme parks and Universal
In a moment, Gary Zenkel will come up and talk for a few minutes about overall Games preparation, the venues and how ready South Korea is, and it is ready. But there’s always a topic associated with the Games, and that’s security. Security of our employees is our No. 1 priority, and with our experience and our deep connections in the security space, we feel as prepared as we can possibly be for this.
We’ll once again stream every competition hour for these Olympics. In addition, we will live stream the opening ceremonies for the first time. It will be a world feed early in the morning on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app, but it is the first time we will ever do this. Our incredibly well-curated opening ceremony coverage will air on NBC later that night, Friday, February the 9th in primetime, and more about that in just a few minutes.
So a brief recap of the Olympics and some of the things I talked about: More live coverage than ever before for a Winter Games; live across the country for the first time ever; and a first in live-streaming the opening ceremony. All new, all firsts, all responsive to fan requests, and in many cases responsive to things some of you have written about us in the past.
So we’re just 18 short days away from the start of these two great events. We have a lot to get out. We have a lot of messaging that we’re doing, and our CMO Jenny Storms will share our approach on how we’re reaching these consumers throughout America with our message.
Jenny Storms: What a time to be a marketer. Two iconic events reaching across America, more platforms, more people than ever before, and it all starts with Super Bowl LII.
We’ve been promoting Super Bowl LII since NFL kickoff and in every Sunday night and Thursday Night Football game, and that promotion will hit epic levels as we unleash the power of NBCUniversal the week of Super Bowl with promotion domination, live entertainment and sports shows from Minneapolis, and co-branded executions across platforms and brands. And something that hasn’t happened before: Our version of the sports eclipse. Four days later, we have our first night of Winter Olympic competition on NBC, a unique opportunity deserving of an unprecedented plan. That plan is based on an insights-led strategy, and at a high very level, we focus on awareness, reach, and relevant connections. And while over 90 percent of Americans are aware and have interest in the Olympics, every two years, we’re launching a new series with new athletes and story lines.
So over the past year, we have been building awareness around these athletes and their stories through entertainment and sports programming, digital and social assets, and our partnerships.
From a reach perspective, we are very blessed with the most robust cross-platform portfolio in media and the power of Symphony. Each month, 93 percent of Americans watch one or more of our networks, and Symphony is our secret sauce. Quite simply, Symphony is when the entire company comes together through cross-platform support, unique integrations and special shows to support an initiative. And in this case, the Super Bowl and the Olympics will receive an unprecedented five weeks of support, which started earlier this month.
Combined with strong reach is our capability to be hyper-relevant to each consumer. We spent last spring and summer diving further into Olympic consumer insights and strategically came out with six unique segments, each with their own needs and behaviors. Having these segments really helps us be relevant and authentic to consumers.
So whether you’re watching promotion on TV, in mobile, in a taxi, in a mall, on a plane, or you’re opening an email from us, we speak directly to you with platform-specific content that resonates on an individual level.
This is going to be the Best Feb Ever, and what better way to celebrate than with something that’s never been done before, something that gives prominence to both the Super Bowl and the Olympics while staying very authentic to both events.
We know the Super Bowl is as much about the game as it is about the advertising in the game. And the Olympics is the greatest intersection of culture and drama. It’s that athlete’s journey from ordinary to extraordinary that makes them so relatable, and we connect with them on a very human level.
Introducing The Best of Us: Five 60-second Super Bowl commercials. These films will be unveiled the week of Super Bowl, with The Today Show exclusively releasing one per day. These are value stories told through the lens of an athlete’s history, and today, I brought one to share with you. The value is sacrifice, and the story is one of love and family, and most importantly, a father’s bond with his daughter. The story is Chloe Kim and her father Jong. Let’s take a look.
Gary Zenkel: What a fantastic story, a fantastic true story that we can’t wait to see play out in PyeongChang.
Welcome to PyeongChang. If you land in Incheon airport, it’s a three-hour drive. Today it’s an 80-minute train ride. The fast train is up and running as of the end of December. This will be home to the seven outdoor ski venues, and it’s really a stunning place. It’s also home to the broadcast center and the stadium. If you remember from Sochi, those were down along the coast. If you continue east about three hours, you do come to the coast, the coastal cluster, in Gangwon province. These are the five indoor venues; four of them are actually clustered here in the Olympic park.
PyeongChang is ready. 20 or 25 or so test events, a work force of 50,000. The paint is actually dry. The roads are striped. They could host these Games today. We couldn’t talk about the readiness of Rio and Sochi quite the way we can with PyeongChang.
NBC is ready. We have 400 people on the ground now in PyeongChang building out our broadcast center, as well as our sets, and of course you always have to show some cable. About 90 miles of cable laid by NBC. We have sets, both inside the IBC, our primary prime studio, as well as on the IBC’s roof, which will give Mike Tirico and some of our other hosts a great venue to showcase what stands behind them, which are some great venues and some stunning scenics of the mountains of PyeongChang.
In addition, we’re going to send about 10 circuits and 2,000 plus hours, as Mark talked about, of content back to our home base in Stamford, Connecticut, where we’ll produce the cable coverage as well as all of that digital content. We’re also going to continue to follow the strategy that we deployed in Rio in which we distributed short form content that we custom produced for many distribution partners. We’ll extend that to media platforms that are just now emerging in an effort to cast that very wide net and reassemble that massive Olympic audience.
We came out of Rio with just a great partnership and great results on Snapchat, and we’re going to go even deeper with Snapchat in PyeongChang, give you a sense of some of the products in Rio. As you recall, we did live stories, now called Our Stories, and publishers’ stories, where we brought a team of BuzzFeed producers. We’ll do all of that again, and we’ll do it, of course, with one game of learnings.
What we’re going to add, the show platform on Snapchat with one show that’s dedicated to four aspiring female Olympic snowboarders that are trying to make it into the Olympics, and we’ll roll out episodes of that between the Super Bowl and the start of the Olympics and then pay it off with an additional couple of shows inside the Olympics.
And we’re watching something called Chasing Gold Olympic profiles, which you know are 20 to 50 profiles that our profile team shoots, a couple of minutes, Jim will roll out in primetime. We’re actually going to recut many of these for the Snapchat platform and the Snapchat audience. We are really excited about this partnership. Ben Schwerin, who is the vice president of partnerships, is here with us today, and one thing we’re excited about is we’ve got 20 of our advertisers that will extend their Olympic buys on to the Snapchat platform and integrate their messaging within this great content.
Before I leave you, and Jim and Mike Tirico join you, I want to show you one of the episodes of what we’re calling Chasing Gold. Thanks.
Jim Bell: Thanks for coming today. So many great stories like Nathan Chen, and some of the athletes, Chloe Kim you saw, but I was coming in on the train this morning, and like a lot of you, thankfully Metro North was running on time, even in the sloppy weather. I saw the alert about North Korea coming to march with South Korea and their athletes participating together on the women’s hockey team. I got pretty stoked.
Mike Tirico: It is incredible. We talk about the power of the Olympics and reaching those of us back home who are watching or fans around the world. This is a different story. This carries the political relevance of the Olympics to another level, and it’s happened before where the two Korean teams have walked in together in the Olympics, but at this time, given the climate, this just adds to the story and adds to the excitement, being just 50, 60 miles away from the North Korean border as the opening ceremonies start on February 9th.
Jim Bell: It has been fascinating to see this all play out right up against the Games as they’re about to begin. So you’ve had about a year before the torch was passed. How are you feeling and what are you thinking about?
Mike Tirico: Well, it’s funny, when we did the announcement here, as Bob Costas is moving on and I’ll be taking over that role as the primetime host, it was a snowy day, and here we are again, so I guess that bodes well for the Winter Olympics. The weather keeps sending the right message.
I couldn’t be more excited. We were over together with some other members of our NBC Olympics team in South Korea, 100 days away from the Games. As Gary said, you could see the readiness, and there won’t be the stories of will this bathroom work. Those things will be answered for the most part as we get over there.
And for me, as I’ve had the chance over 25, 30 years of doing this covering basketball and football, now to experience new sports, new athletes, it has been a thrill. I’ve spent the last eight, nine months meeting a lot of the U.S. Olympics, probably four, five dozen Olympians I’ve been able to spend time with, been able to talk to, watch them as they compete going forward. I just joked with one of our Olympics team, I was watching men’s skeleton on the Olympic channel the other day, and I said, what has happened to my life. But I loved it, and I was excited to watch it. That’s the joy of the Games. And at the U.S. figure skating championships in San Jose, I hosted that coverage a couple of weeks ago.
You just get a different feel from Olympic athletes. There is more of a real feel to the athletes. They have not been five-star coddled athletes as football and basketball players often can be, and it has resonated with me why the Olympics still matter: Real stories of real relatable people that will become icons in our country or in other countries throughout the Games. So I can’t wait to get rolling here.
Jim Bell: That is such a huge part of the appeal is that they get these every four years moments to shine, and that moment sometimes comes down to fractions of seconds or inches, and it’s on the edge, and it’s really incredible. You saw the story there with Chloe Kim. But I know we’ve also had you out doing some stories. Anything stood out to you among the athletes you’ve gotten to talk to in person?
Mike Tirico: Sure, there have been a few. Spending some time around Shaun White, understanding where Shaun White’s head is at this opportunity, perhaps for the last time, likely for the last time to go for the gold. He’s really inspired a lot of the people he’ll be competing with, but he still wants to beat them, and he put up a perfect score of 100 in the half pipe this past weekend, just to send a message to himself and to all of us that he will be heard from in PyeongChang.
Lindsey Vonn’s story really sticks out. I think you saw it there in one of the items we just showed you. This is someone who has broken all these bones but still has this ridiculous desire to go down a mountain 80 miles per hour, faster than anybody else in the world. And believes that she can do it. And when I asked her, when we sat down and interviewed her for a story that will air during the Games, I asked her, why are you still doing this. She just looked at me with great consternation: Mike, why am I doing this? Because I can beat them all. There’s just a real nature to Lindsey. And the chance to see that for me really came home with the opportunity of a lifetime for me.
I got to go back to Lindsey’s roots to see where her Olympic dream started and the people who helped start it. And we’re going to share that story with you, and it has a really interesting postscript that I think will remind you of what these athletes and their chase is all about. Here is Lindsey Vonn’s story.
Any of you who know anything about Lindsey or have a chance to interview her or cover her, those tears are not what you associate with Lindsey Vonn; she’s as tough an athlete as you can find, and the access to really the most decorated female skier of all time, it’s not the access you get with a Tom Brady or a Michael Jordan or a LeBron James, and that’s some of the unique and special nature that the Games provide for telling stories that connect, and the postscript to that is we shot that in August. Grandpa Don passed away about a month or so later, and the next morning I got a text from Lindsey saying thanks for coming out because if you didn’t come out that day and your schedule didn’t work out that way, I would have not spent that day, that final day with Grandpa Don. So it was really something that hopefully we’ll be able to share with everyone, and we certainly know given his importance in her career and the connection as he fought in the Korean War, it’ll be very much present in Lindsey’s mind when she skis at the Olympic Games. We look forward to sharing some stories like that and beyond in the next few weeks.
Jim Bell: So many stories to get to. I referenced earlier the prospect that now looks confirmed that the North Koreans and South Koreans will march in together. I think that’s going to be really such an emotional high point at that opening ceremony. Tell us a little bit about how you’re feeling about that night. It’s such a unique night in television.
Mike Tirico: It is different. One of the things I’ve been asked very often as I followed Bob Costas, who is irreplaceable in this role, Bob has mentioned to me in terms of preparation, you’re going to spend a lot of time preparing for the opening ceremony and how important it is for so many people. I was starting to dig into some of the items of the opening ceremony over the last week or so, and I just can’t wait to get that started. That’ll be on Friday night; the first night of competition is Thursday; the Super Bowl is the prior Sunday. So what a week it is.
And when you think about the opening ceremony, think about that XFINITY guide. If you pull up the remote, you pull up the guide; what are the topics? You have news, sports, history, art, culture, music. The opening ceremony is one of the most unique shows you can have. Every two years you get this entire stew of different topics all put into one great show that the world is watching. So it’s something that we always take great pride in broadcasting and want to have as great a possible team, and we’ll certainly have plenty of people to help us tell the story of the athletes from around the world, but I can’t imagine having a better person to share the air with that night and bring those stories back home. At this time we’d like to announce and introduce the cohost of our opening ceremony coverage for these Olympic Games. It is Katie Couric.
Katie Couric: Hi, everyone. Surprise.
Jim Bell: So we’re thrilled to have you. This is exciting. You’re back. You’ve done this a few times before.
Katie Couric: Yeah, I’ve been lucky enough to host the opening ceremony three times: Sydney, Salt Lake City, and then Athens, and I am really excited and thrilled to be included in this and to work with Mike, who we go way back since 45 minutes ago.
Mike Tirico: It’s an hour and a half actually, Katie.
Katie Couric: But we have many mutual friends, and people speak so highly of Mike. I echo his sentiments, and obviously I’m excited to work with Jim. We worked together on The Today Show. I’m looking at all my different hairstyles through the years.
Mike Tirico: I won’t comment on your hairstyles. They’re all good by me.
Katie Couric: But basically obviously the opening ceremony, as Mike said, really sets the tone for the entire Games. It’s a huge, spectacular display of art and culture. It’s a moment of tremendous national pride for the host country, and of course the Parade of Nations is fantastic, as well.
You know, I was just getting all verklempt watching that Lindsey Vonn profile because I think the Olympics really do embody this unifying force, and people can put aside their differences and really celebrate athleticism and athletic excellence and perseverance and resilience and all the things I think that we see these athletes embody every time they compete.
So I couldn’t be happier to lend a helping hand, and I’m just thrilled to be here.
Jim Bell: Mike had talked about the opening ceremony and how unique a telecast it is, and I was reminded because in a lot of ways it is a little bit about The Today Show because there’s so many different things coming at you, and Tom Brokaw once described The Today Show as having to take an exam every morning in front of the entire country on topics you weren’t sure what they were going to be about, and the opening ceremony is a little bit like that. There are different countries, there’s geography, there’s the significance of what this means to the Koreans. I mean, you’ve done three of them, and I know they can go by in a blur, but does any particular moment stand out?
Katie Couric: Well, I think all of them. I think one of the things that I’ve really enjoyed about the Games is to see those athletes go from obscurity to becoming household names. You know, Apolo Ohno and Sarah Hughes, for example. In Salt Lake City, everyone thought Michelle Kwan was going to win the gold medal, and kind of Sarah came from nowhere. She was just so wholesome. Someone told me she just finished law school at the University of Pennsylvania.
Jim Bell: She couldn’t get into UVA?
Katie Couric: Yeah, I guess she couldn’t get into UVA. So I think that’s one of the great things. I’ve gotten to know Rulon Gardner very well after Sydney, and of course we all followed what happened to Rulon and sort of how he just broke through.
So I think that for me, it’s just always exciting to see who’s lighting the torch. I remember Atlanta, of course, with Muhammad Ali, which was so incredibly moving. I wasn’t doing the opening ceremony but I was covering the Games back then, and to me it’s just, as I mentioned, a chance for each host country to really put its best foot forward. I always marvel at how it has to be orchestrated and how many people are involved and what can possibly go wrong. That’s always kind of exciting, too.
But to see all this sort of confluence of art and culture, and it’s usually technologically, I think, really challenging to put these events together. I mean, it’s just mammoth.
Jim Bell: For so many of the athletes, that’s their moment. That’s their one single moment. So many of them are going home without a medal, but they get to come in and represent their under their flag, and it’s obviously a very special night.
Katie Couric: Yeah.
Mike Tirico: And I’m looking forward to having someone who’s been through this, so any advice you can share as I prepare for the next couple of weeks to go on this journey of introducing the countries of the world of the Winter Games with you?
Katie Couric: Obviously you have, I think, an 11-month advantage on me, Mike, because you’ve been cramming for that long, so I have a lot to catch up with. But knowing that, I thought I’d actually give you a little pop quiz and see where you are in your preparation.
Mike Tirico: Nobody told me about this, thank you very much. This is not part of the deal here.
Katie Couric: So if anybody else can answer these questions, go for it.
Mike Tirico: Can I phone a friend?
Katie Couric: Yeah, possibly, yeah.
Which country has won the most all-time winter medals?
Mike Tirico: Well, the Soviet Union was together for so long, but then you start splitting those up. I believe every country would like to have more Winter Olympians from Norway.
Katie Couric: That’s correct. A country that currently is quite popular these days. Here we have another questions: Greece traditionally marches first in the opening ceremony, but which country will be second in the Korean language order?
Mike Tirico: That’s right, it goes in the language order of the host country. I would have had no idea on this, but I did start to look at the order for the countries. It’s an African nation. I want to say it’s Ghana.
Katie Couric: You’re right. I mean, I’ve got a lot of cramming to do. And true or false — I’m not asking you the hardest ones, by the way. True or false, Iceland has never won a Winter Games medal.
Mike Tirico: Iceland? Iceland has to have won a Winter Games medal. I’ll say true.
Katie Couric: No, wait, has never won a Winter Games medal. They have never won. It’s never won. Go figure.
Mike Tirico: So I’m wrong? I’m going back to study. Thank you. You bring those notes, I’ll bring my notes. Together we’ll cobble this together.
Katie Couric: But in addition to kind of learning all you need to learn about the delegations and about the country, and of course I think this is an added facet with all the geopolitical stuff that is going on in the world, I think all eyes will really be on South Korea clearly, and as you mentioned, with the North and South Korean delegation coming in together.
But I think my best advice is just to have fun. I think there’s so much pomp and pageantry, and it’s so colorful and exciting that I think you and I should just have a good time. I know I always did when I did it with Bob. We had a lot of fun and a lot of laughs. There are some very serious aspects of covering it, but also there’s just a lot of fun and in some cases a lot of humor, and I understand you’re pretty good at that, as well.
Mike Tirico: Well, there’s a little bit for everyone in the opening ceremony, and I have the perfect person to join me for that, so I’m looking forward to that. It’ll be a lot of fun. It’ll be great to have you with us at the game, as well.
Q. Katie, how did this come about, by the way, and the three Olympics you hosted, what years were they again?
Katie Couric: Well, I did Sydney, Salt Lake City, and then I did Athens. And I covered other Olympics, of course, but those are where I hosted the opening ceremony. Basically, Jim gave me a call a few weeks ago. I’ve been busy doing a six-hour docu-series, as you know, for National Geographic that’s coming up this spring, and he asked if I could take some time out and join the NBC Sports team to do this, and I tried to figure out if I could do that and also finish the series, and I’m in a good place with the series. I was able to take some time and do this, and so I told him I would love to.
Q. Jim, you mentioned sort of the heartening story of the two Koreas marching in together. Even if it doesn’t change the specifics of your approach to security, do you think the sort of change in tone in these last few weeks might at least reduce whatever angst there might be on the part of your employees about going into a part of the world like that?
Jim Bell: I do. I think that de-escalation of tension has been most welcome both by the world and our employees who are in the world.
So as part of our opening ceremony coverage and overall Olympic coverage, we’ve tapped Dave Chang, the known famed restaurateur, and Joshua Cooper Ramo, who served us so capably in Beijing as our expert on all things Asia, China and Korea to work with us, and as part of that, we sent Dave over there to do a little cultural piece about some women divers. Let’s take a look.
It’s a great piece. We really take pride in the ability to go and tell these stories of the host country and in Korea because food, as we learned on our trips, is such an important part of that experience. It’s how so much the families are together around food and business happens around food. Talk to us a little bit about that piece and how it came together.
Dave Chang: It’s something I heard about from my grandmother growing up, and I never thought that I’d actually get to Jeju Island. It’s an island that is traditionally known as where couples go for their honeymoon in Korea. It’s on the southern tip and it’s got warm weather, but this was like — even the water was extraordinarily cold. It was like 40 degrees.
To meet these women that have passed down this tradition for hundreds of years, they’re getting abalone, sea cucumber, whatever they can gather from the ocean floor. I was surprised to see someone that was like 78, the oldest was like 89. It was unbelievable. And to hang with these women and to cook with them, I really did see a lot of my mother and my grandmother, and that’s why they were so respected.
Jim Bell: I went down to see you, I guess, maybe a year ago it was at one of your fantastic restaurants, just to have an exploratory conversation about whether you would be interested, and was shocked and pleasantly so about what a big sports and Olympics fan you are.
Dave Chang: This is still very surreal for me to even speak to you guys. Watching the Olympics both summer and the winter, you know, I joke like for being a Korean, like these are the only times we win Winter Olympic medals, and I’ve been a huge fan of it my entire life. To be able to be part of this and to be able to share this through food and talking about food and culture, I still have to pinch myself.
Jim Bell: Joshua, welcome back. You are our Asian expert, as it were, and you’ve been spending a lot of time in Korea and you’ve lived in Beijing for a long time and have, I think, a unique understanding and appreciation of that region. Talk to us a little bit about your thoughts as we head into these games.
Joshua Cooper Ramo: Well, we’ve seen each other in Korea, back and forth a fair amount in recent months, and I think all of us who have been there have had this sense — I don’t want to give away too much about the opening ceremony, but the opening ceremony is like this perfectly-crafted Joseon dynasty vase that was just designed to hold this one thing in the middle, and nobody really knew if it was going to happen. And there was this hope and this hope, and when you had the new president, everybody thought the Sunshine Policy is finally going to trigger something, and then there’s this remarkable New Year’s Day speech. And suddenly that piece of the puzzle which everybody in Korea just hoped so much for — remember it’s a country that’s been at war, that has this daily sense that few Americans can understand what the pressure of that is like, they get the thing to complete it.
The experience of the Olympics generally, which is this sort of transcendent message of peace and so forth is always present. What changes from time to time is you have these moments where you feel the whole world is watching because something significant is happening. That’s really the feeling we had in Beijing. I think in 2008 there was no question about that. And that will be the same here.
Jim Bell: You’ve been privy to some of the secrets around the opening ceremony, and you say, without spoiling anything, what do you think about it?
Joshua Cooper Ramo: You know, one of the problems, as you mentioned, I’ve been based in Asia for the last — more than 15 years between Japan and China, and first of all, it’s very significant that you’ve got this period where we’re going to have this Asian pivot of the games where you’re going to go from Korea to Japan to Beijing, a part of the world that’s going to have 60, 65 percent of GDP in the lifetimes of most of the people here. So we’re entering this dramatic period of Asian resurgence, and the problem always is how do you explain Asian culture to people. Before I moved to Beijing, somebody said, you know, as important as being bilingual, because I speak Chinese, is being bicultural, and making that cultural leap is really the challenge. And I have to say they did a wonderful job with it in Beijing, but I’ve never seen a group that has been as thoughtful and careful about architecting something that is really designed to say, hey, here’s a core value for us, let us try to explain that to you, and people forget, Korea is really a soft power superpower in Asia. Most of the most popular television shows, the most popular music, the singing groups, they all come from Korea. So there’s really nobody better in the region to do this. And I think you’ll come away with it, not only with a feeling for Korea but for these kind of difficult-to-explain Asian concepts.
Jim Bell: Questions for Dave or Joshua? I’ll give Dave the floor back for one quick second to just tell everybody what they’re about to be treated to once we end this.
Dave Chang: Well, we wanted to share with you some of the great food of Korea. We made obviously some banchan, which is sort of stuff that you eat on a table when you sit at a restaurant. We have some kimchi, cabbage kimchi, cucumber kimchi, water radish. We have braised short ribs. We have spicy rice cakes. We have vegetarian japchae and a few other things. Hope you enjoy it all, and happy to explain whatever you guys need on this.
Q. (No microphone.)
Dave Chang: The question was what I’m excited about explaining about Korean food that most people don’t know about. I think that when you talk about Korean food, most people think that it’s Korean barbecue or kimchi, and the reality is, and we talk about this in something that we already filmed, was that there’s so much more, and people don’t realize that Korea has been heavily influenced by China, by Japan, by America, and you can see it in its cuisine. It’s not monolithic. It’s just a hodgepodge of many different things. You have Buddhist cuisine, and it’s so rich. And I think if you could understand Korean cuisine, you could really understand the Korean people.
Jim Bell: So while squash is not yet an Olympic sport, if it ever does become it, we have our captain, the chairman and CEO of Comcast, Brian Roberts.
Brian Roberts: Thank you, Jim, for that great introduction. Well, I’m really worried that all that stands between me and some great — or between you and some fantastic food is me, so I will try to move us along. But if you can’t get excited about what we’ve just witnessed, I don’t know what will. Every two years, we are so proud at Comcast NBCUniversal to be the company that helps to bring these amazing athletes’ lives to everyone’s homes. So you know a lot about what NBC is up to, so what I’m going to do is quickly tell you about what the Comcast side of the company is up to.
First of all, we are now officially a United States Olympic sponsor, and that was not the case. So let me just quickly say that we’re proud of that and show you a spot that we’ve created on the Comcast and XFINITY side that shows that off just a little bit.
So we look at the Olympics as our laboratory, and as a technology matter, what’s happening in the world of television, where’s it going, what’s happening to our viewers, next generation, and so we pull all of the efforts into using the Olympics and what’s happened with the great coverage that Mark and the team have just described. Let me give you a glimpse of what that’s going to be like for all the XFINITY customers.
Here you are watching television, and you pull up our bar of information, our home page. This happens 2 billion times a month. So what we’re doing different is we are adding an Olympics layer down here. And if you click in to the Olympics, as we started this idea in Rio but completely have transformed it now for this Olympics, we have Olympics channels. Let’s just start there. And if I come down all the way, you can see — you can browse by sport. You can just get 4K content. If you just want to go by top moments or web videos that have gone viral. If you want to see what’s coming up next in coverage because we have 2,400 hours. We have twice the live coverage or twice the coverage of the last two Winter Games combined available to a viewer. How in the world do you find what you want? And that’s what we’re trying to do.
If you just want to go by athlete or a curated experience by your favorite sport, so if I go into Olympics channels, you can see what’s trending now, crashes, upsets, moments, things — but I’m interested in snowboarding. So if I click here, I immediately see Chloe Kim, and I’m watching. I can then pull it up. There’s a whole — it’s been put together for you, specific to you, so I go, well, I’ve heard about Sean white’s fantastic performance, I didn’t get to see it. Let’s just go right to it. And now there it is.
So the first thing is just using visual. The second is our awarding-winning voice commands. We now have more than a billion voice commands a quarter that our XFINITY customers have; more than, I think, 20 million voice remotes are now out in the market, and if I just say, “Olympics home,” we’ve created voice commands just for the Olympics. So it will take me back to those Olympics channels.
So if I come down, I see what’s on now. Here’s the NBC primetime show. I click in, and I’m watching figure skating. But it’s in the middle, and I see the performance looks great, so I just say, “restart this program.” And just like that, we’ll go back to the beginning of her performance.
Now I go — I’m watching. I want to enjoy learning more about her. So I say “Bradie Tennell,” and while you’re watching you can do other things. There should be some volume. And I go, “what song is playing?” And these are features that we’ve been developing that are now live with the Olympics. If you say, I’m also interested in another event that I know is going on right now, USA men’s hockey, while I’m watching the performance, I get real time updated scoring, so that’s live, and I go, you know what, I’m interested in that, and I click — sorry, Bradie. We go to USA. Again, another one of the many NBCUniversal channels that will be having the live event.
So a feature that we’ve developed that 60 percent of our customers use every month is our sports app. So while you’re consuming a game, here is all sorts of other options that come up just about hockey. We’ve tailored, again, the sports app to all Olympic sports, so I can see what’s the score and other information. I can favorite it, or I can go over and see video highlights, again, about hockey or the team itself, go into one particular athlete and see what’s going on there.
All right, if we go back to Olympics home, again, we’ve created some new working with NBC, and here’s an example of a summary, just in one visual, what is coming up today. I can navigate, set reminders, and see where America is at. Or I can go and say, here’s a live event on USA. Here’s speed skating. We’ve taken the NBC Sports app, integrated it into the television, and here I’m watching the speed skating. That’s actually coming over the web, but it’s on your television. It’s also on your mobile device with the exact same user interface and on the tablet, all things we’ve never done before. So we are extremely excited to have integrated this amazing story telling and capabilities into our X1 platform, and just to conclude, I just want to say, working on the Olympics, I think speaking for Steve Burke and others at NBC, we are delighted to bring this to the American public, and it’s a highlight of the year every time it happens. Thank you very much.
Greg Hughes: That concludes our presentation this morning. Please feel free to join us for some of David Chang’s food here, and the panelists will all be available for questions for a short time here. Thanks very much.