NBC Steps Up Branding For Comcast Sports Nets
Comcast-NBC Universal marketing efforts are well underway to put the NBC brand onto most of Comcast's sports networks. One major benefit comes from cross-channel promotion via the local cable inventory Comcast controls.
One of the earliest efforts has been with re-branding NBC's golf events on the broadcast network, now called "Golf Channel on NBC." This riffs off the Comcast-owned Golf Channel, which is in 75 million homes. In turn, the Golf Channel has added NBC's peacock trademark -- but not the NBC name itself -- to some of its programming bugs that appear on the screen.
Dick Ebersol, chairman of the new NBC Sports Group, said Comcast-owned channel Versus will have a new name by mid-July. John Miller, chief marketing officer of NBC Universal, said the new name would most likely incorporate the NBC name and/or trademarks into its new moniker.
All this would be similar to NBC's previous strategy with other cable networks: MSNBC and CNBC.
NBC and Comcast sports channel Versus have already done much to cross-promote given their shared partnership in the NHL, where the NBC airs the Stanley Cup to complement Versus heavy regular-season NHL hockey games. NBC and Versus will also share in Kentucky Derby programming, where Versus will run associated programming and NBC will be airing the actual race.
NBC's Miller was about to head into retirement, but was asked by Ebersol to stay on and supervise all cross-marketing efforts around NBC Sports assets. All this comes under a new marketing group, The NBC Sports Agency, which borrows some marketing staff from all the groups' existing sports channels.
The marketing division's name riffs off The NBC Agency, which Miller cofounded in the 1990s, an in-house marketing agency for the NBC network and other entertainment divisions.
Miller says one big addition for all marketing duties comes from Comcast's own local cable advertising sales operation, Comcast Spotlight. NBC has easier access for promotion in some 22 million homes -- using local cable avails for non-NBC cable networks.
Previously, NBC had to spend local TV media dollars to access this inventory -- if at all, given some restrictions by networks and/or cable operators. "Now, [Comcast Spotlight] can give us custom content," Miller says, "as well as access to bill stuffers, electronic program guides, and barker channels."
Cross-channel promotion has been heavily evident -- even for NBC-associated new networks, such as Universal Sports, in which NBC has a management role and a small equity investment. For example, Universal Sports, the hybrid cable network/local digital TV station network, has been heavily promoting its cycling events during Versus cycling programming this spring, as well as sharing on-air talent.
Universal Sports, a network focused on Olympics sports, has been actively promoting the world's second-largest road cycling stage race, the Giro d'Italia, which is currently being aired on the network. The promotion is not only for increase viewership but to get better carriage on cable, telco and satellite programming providers.