Wright Unveils Olympic Plans, Calls for Telco Cooperation on New Ad Models

Bob Wright, in a keynote role as vice chairman and executive officer of General Electric, last week chose a new Chicago conference organized by the telecom industry as the forum to show off NBC Universal's plans for the "first-ever broadband coverage" of the Olympics.

Next year's Beijing summer games will feature live streaming of 24 sports and more than 1,000 hours of online coverage, according to a promotional video Wright unspooled.

Wright also used the occasion of NXTcomm, touted as the first conference for the "converged communications, information and entertainment industries," to call on the telecom industry to work together with content owners to develop new advertising models for the new media.

Joking that he was the only voice from the media/entertainment industry speaking at the conference, Wright said: "We're all in the business of aggregating audiences and delivering them to advertisers." To help this happen, he said that all parties must also work together to define technological standards ("we need uniformity of standards to have ubiquity of distribution"), and to protect content from pirates.

Stating that the "lean-back experience" of watching TV differs greatly from watching a two-inch screen, Wright said "the mobile handset is the perfect place to exploit the possibility of targeted, personalized and interactive advertising." But in order to do that, he returned to the "we need to work together" theme--this time, "to mine the data while protecting our customers' privacy."

Mobile, as a vehicle for watching highlights on the go, was also featured in the Olympics video. Clearly designed for the advertising community--and even featuring Coca-Cola banner ads on its sample online screens--the video said that NBC will show 2,400 total hours on all its platforms, including broadcast, cable and its NBCOlympics.com Web site. Over 17 days of coverage, that equals "six days worth produced every single day."

NBC predicted 200 million total viewers, as its original $3.5 billion deal for U.S. rights to all Summer and Winter games from 2000 to 2008 draws to an end.

NXTcomm was jointly run by the Telecommunications Industry Association and the United States Telecom Association.