NBC, Facebook form tie-up

12 July 2012

NEW YORK: NBC, the broadcaster, has formed an alliance with Facebook, the social network, linked to its coverage of the 2012 Olympic Games, a move the two companies believe will yield mutual benefits.

Under the terms of the tie-up, viewers watching Olympics on television will see prompts encouraging them to discuss it on the online platform, users of which will receive reminders about tuning in to NBC.

As well as adding exclusive content for its "fans" on the social network, NBC will leverage tracking data from Facebook providing insights into the buzz generated by the event, and use it to shape its output.

Similarly, a "Facebook Talk Meter" will appear on TV screens, revealing what is engaging netizens. "We know that a social conversation will surround the Olympics," Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics, told the New York Times.

Zenkel stated that this tactic constituted part of "our continuing efforts to reassemble the audience" that has become increasingly stratified as new media channels gain greater amounts of traction.

"Facebook has the attention of a large portion of the American audience," he continued. "We think it will be very interesting and informative for our audience to let them know, from time to time, what is hot and what people are talking about."

Alongside showing the Games on its main network, NBC is live streaming the competition on its website. Visitors will be able to watch upon entering valid subscription details for a pay-TV service, and then share links to content on Facebook.

NBC's primetime broadcast will also flag up a daily poll it is hosting on Facebook, with additional pointers to the social media service coming "when the information warrants it and when it is compelling," Zenkel said.

Facebook had approximately 100m members when the last summer Olympics were held in Beijing in 2008. It currently has over 900m, offering NBC a potentially huge audience.

On its part, Facebook will receive airtime during one of the most valuable broadcast segments on television. "It's terrific exposure," said Andy Mitchell, Facebook's manager of strategic media partnerships.

Mitchell further suggested that the sheer volume of coverage meant links shared on Facebook could play a key role. "[It will be] a great way to discover new games, athletes and events," he said.

A small group of Facebook staff working in London are also going to help NBC draw together statistics related to user interactions. "NBC is going to turn that data into stories," Mitchell added.

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by Warc staff