Olympics 2016: NBC’s Plan To Lure Younger Audiences Through Facebook And Ryan Seacrest

NBC is gearing up for heavy social media attention to this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio since, traditionally, the median age of those watching the broadcast is fairly high. The 2008 Summer Games in Beijing was 46.9 and rose to 48.2 during the 2012 Summer Games in London according to Nielsen. “It’s not that we’re trying to ‘age-down’ the Olympics,” said John Miller, NBC Olympics chief marketing officer to Variety this week. “It’s that we’re trying to get everyone in the household to watch the Olympics.”

According to Variety, this is the first time that NBC has spent a significant amount of marketing money to promote the Games through social media. Yesterday, Ryan Seacrest hosted the first-ever “Social Media Opening Ceremony” at the Jonathan Club on Santa Monica Beach. The NBC Olympics Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat posted content throughout the whole day and will continue through the start of the Games.

“The 2016 Olympics will be by far the most social Games we’ve seen,” says Seacrest, who is also serving at the network’s late-night TV host.

NBC plans to promote the Olympics to younger viewers through social media channels in hopes that many will watch the live coverage of the games with their parents. Leading the way are influences hand-picked by Seacrest’s Civic Entertainment Group including “the Fine Brothers, Jerry Purpdrank, Amanda Cerny, Tiffany Alvord, Hannah Bronfman, lifestyle blogger Marianna Hewitt, model Julia Friedman, BuzzFeed’s The Try Guys, and about 250 bloggers in SheKnows Media’s network,” says Variety. Leaving no stone un-turned, NBC is also working with Spotify with playlists of music inspired by the Olympics.

“It’s a big change from what NBC’s traditional strategies have looked like — they’re going to be getting millions of views across platforms,” says Trygve Jensen, VP and GM of Zefr. “Influencers will change the way people experience the Olympics…. In the future, this will be a big part of tune-in campaigns.”

NBC has been covering both the Winter and Summer Olympic Games since 1988 and will continue to do so until at least 2032. So far, the network has spent about $1.23 billion to air this year’s Games in Rio plus another $100 million marketing campaign which is $25 million more than they spent on the 2012 Summer Games according to CNN.

NBC is making changes from every angle to make sure that the broadcast is profitable, but not every proposed change is a welcomed one. NBC had asked the Olympics officials to change the order of the Parade of Nations during the August 5th Opening Ceremonies in hopes of placing the U.S. athletes in a more favorable timeline to which the officials told them “no.”

Teams featured in the Parade of Nations enter the arena in alphabetical order using the official language of the host country. Because of this, the 555 U.S. athletes will be seen somewhere in the middle of the pack. NBC had hoped to have featured near the end giving Americans a larger reason to watch the entire opening ceremony.

This year’s Summer Games run from August 5-21. Today hosts Matt Lauer and Hoda Kotb will join Meredith Vieira to host the Opening Ceremony broadcast. Kotb will be filling in for Savannah Guthrie who had planned to attend the Games in person, but has decided to stay home due to her pregnancy and the threat of the Zika virus which is still spreading there through mosquitoes and has been linked to causing birth defects.

“I’m not going to be able to go to Rio,” says Guthrie. “The doctors say that we shouldn’t because of the CDC, because of the Zika virus, so I’ll miss it.”

[Photo: Rachel Murray/Getty Images]