Local Heroes Key In Olympic Effort

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NBC Universal will try to boost local ad sales for the Summer Olympics in 20 markets by providing affiliates with promotional spots featuring participants from their area.

That's just one of the components of a multitiered promotional strategy NBC Universal plans to encourage viewership of the Beijing games, which begin Aug. 8, said senior vice president of marketing and sales strategy, TV networks distribution Brian Hunt.

Other components include HD subscription retention and sales, related video-on-demand and broadband content and interactive fare.

The locally tied spots will appear in such markets as Seattle (including a slice-of-life spot in which pole vaulter Brad Walker explains what a pain it is to get his equipment on a plane); Los Angeles (with beach volleyball Olympians Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh); and Cleveland, where gymnast Paul Hamm will be featured. Other markets will get generic spots designed for tagging by local advertisers, Hunt said.

Cable systems are already deep into their Olympics sales season: Hunt said more than 150 affiliates and their advertisers qualified for a trip earlier this month to the Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs, Colo., for a chance to visit the U.S. training camp and meet with athletes. The incentive was designed to promote the sale of large Olympics ad packages, he said.

NBCU will also treat the Olympics viewing period as broadcasters do the Super Bowl: as a time when consumers mull HDTV purchases. Affiliates will be provided with on-air, direct mail and bill stuffers to promote HDTV content sales, as well as material designed to retain current high-definition subscribers. The latter highlights the quality and quantity of hours of coverage that will be provided on broadcast, as well as CNBC, MSNBC, USA Network, Oxygen, Telemundo, NBC HD, Universal HD, USA HD and CNBC HD Plus.

NBCU also plans free on-demand content before and during the games. Before the games open, content will include event previews and athlete interviews. During the competiton, offerings will include daily highlights from each sport.

The Olympics content will also be available on broadband and affiliates may place it on their Web sites.

Broadband content also includes a “rewind” of longform video replays of the best sessions and events of the day. NBCU anticipates posting more than 2,000 hours of content; 25 events will be streamed live.

The programmer also will promote upgrades by consumers to digital services so subscribers can access the variety of Olympics coverage.

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