O-Zone to Provide Olympics Content

Jan 5, 2004  •  Post A Comment

While NBC is on the road to Athens and the 2004 Olympics this summer, the network’s affiliates are headed to the O-Zone on NBCOlympics.com.
More than 200 members of the affiliate body last month got a preview of the first joint initiative to emerge from the NBC Affiliate Futures Committee. It detailed the high degree of localization of Olympics coverage that will be available and exploitable, at no cost, to affiliates.
“We have taken the affiliate-broadcast network model and transferred it to the Internet,” said Brandon Burgess, executive VP, NBC business development. He said the collaboration over the past few months went smoothly, with no “stereotypical” conflicts.
For the network it’s a way to raise the profile of the NBC and Olympic brands on every Main Street in the country. It also increases the interactivity of and traffic to the Web site, which averaged more than 1 million visitors a day during the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games, setting a record of 2.4 million visitors on the day of the women’s ice skating finals.
For the participating affiliates, whose station brands and call letters will be integrated into every page of NBCOlympics.com, it’s an opportunity to further capitalize on what is regarded as one of the network’s biggest brands and the merchandising of it-expect a new version of the Roots beret that was the hit of the Salt Lake City Games. The local stations will keep all revenue they bring in from local sponsors and advertisers.
Hearst-Argyle Television Executive VP Terry Mackin, who heads the futures committee, said affiliates will not have to upgrade their technology, but will be able to simply plug in to NBC’s Web platform.
Creative content on the local pages-to be dubbed collectively the O-Zone-will be the responsibility of the stations.
Two franchises scheduled for the water cooler content area will be built around NBC-family talent. “Access Athens” will be hosted by “Access Hollywood’s” Billy Bush, who will be joined by a female reporter still to be named who will contribute multiple original pieces about the Athens scene each day. In “Pat’s Home Videos,” “Access Hollywood’s” Pat O’Brien will serve as an all-access Olympics pass.
Mr. Mackin, for one, is confident that the Web site game plan will be particularly appealing to the elusive 18- to 34-year-old viewer. “It’s going to be cool,” Mr. Mackin said.
The Web site development will begin in earnest this month, and NBCOlympics.com is expected to launch in late spring. No minimum level of affiliate participation is required for the project to go forward, but Roger Ogden, the general manager of Gannett-owned KUSA-TV in Denver and the chairman of the NBC affiliates advisory board, said, “I think there is a tremendous amount of interest.”
“The big winner is us. We are on the front page with the network,” Mr. Mackin said.
“We all felt it was a no-brainer,” Mr. Burgess said.