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NBC — long-standing rights-holder for the Olympic Games — hasinked a deal with Twitter to flow some live coverage of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to the social platform, per The New York Times. Business Insider Intelligence
Fans on Twitter will be able to vote each morning on which Olympic event they want to be featured on the platform that day, and the majority winner will then live-stream that day. NBC will also produce a daily 20-minute live show from Tokyo, specifically for Twitter.
What this means for Twitter: Twitter has been ramping up its efforts to take advantage of the avid sports fanbase on its site, who tend to use the platform as a place for quick updates and reactions anyway.
Twitter toutshigher engagement during sporting events than any other social platform — in fact, most social networks actually see a dip during live events, where Twitter sees a distinct increase. And sports leagues and networks have taken notice: Twitter recently expanded renewals with partners including the NFL, ESPN, and MLS, per the company’s Q2 2019earnings.
And earlier this year, Twitter struck adeal with the NBA and rightsholder Turner Sports to live-stream the second half of 20 games. Shortly thereafter, the NBA became themost-followed sports league account on Twitter, and saw so much success with highlights and clips that it recently announced it’s in the works of creatingtwo original shows to live-stream exclusively on Twitter.
While these deals are meant to be complementary to live linear TV and streaming properties — not primary or standalone — Twitter expects live video content to boost active engagement among its users. That would help it further extract value from its monetizable daily active users (mDAU), which sit at 139 million as of Q2 2019, up 14% YoY.
And considering that video ads have become Twitter’s dominant ad format, we expect them to make good use of the sports-driven engagement bump: Last year in Q1, Twitter saidmore than half of its advertising revenue came from video ads.
What this means for NBC: NBC can tap into Twitter’s avid fanbase, and potentially drive viewership — which is already expected to be high — back to its own platforms, which will by then include NBCUniversal’s AVOD offering.
Twitter’s increased engagement during sporting events is something NBC is no doubt banking on to drive increased viewership of and conversation around the 2020 Games.Also, NBCU is set to launch its streaming service inApril, where it will likely offer Olympics content.
The ad-supported version will initially roll out to Comcast and Sky pay-TV customers, but it will also have a paid ad-free tier for non-pay-TV subs. With the Olympics set to kick off on in July 2020, NBCU likely aims to boost both ad revenue and subscription signups from the buzz, which Twitter conversation will add to.
While the Olympics command plenty of attention on their own, NBCU likely doesn’t want to take any chances when it comes to delivering on promises to advertisers, hence its Twitter partnership. NBCU projects it will sell more than$1.2 billion in advertising for its 17 days of Olympics broadcasts, up from the $1.2 billion it sold for the 2016 summer Olympics, and the$850 million it made sold for the 2018 winter Olympics.
The media company finished the upfronts with a reported10% growth in ad load volume, for a total of $7 billion across its platforms, and 7% of that volume increase was directly attributable to the Olympics. While this suggests that advertisers, as much as NBC itself, are confident in the Olympics’ ability to drive viewership, the network is still making every effort to ensure plenty of people watch. Leaning on Twitter — and relinquishing a bit of its traditional exclusivity — should serve it well to ensure it brings in audiences far and wide.
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