Commentary

In 2022, The Olympics Will Be Promoted After The Super Bowl

Though TV networks' on-air promotional time --live program same/day avails in primetime -- have ongoing value, it is lessening.

And perhaps all this extends to bigger program scheduling, too.

Live TV event programming -- especially sports -- still packs promotional punch for shows that follow a high-rated TV event. Consider what NFL football on CBS does for “60 Minutes,” its news magazine.

And the biggest of sports events -- the Super Bowl -- can do much more, launching new TV series that can last for years. Look at what CBS’ airing of the Super Bowl in February did for “The Equalizer.”

That show earned 20.4 million Nielsen live program viewers, following the Super Bowl. And this year so far, it averages 10.4 million viewers according to Nielsen’s live program and seven days of time-shifted viewing -- a top five broadcast TV show.

So one wonders what NBCUniversal is doing for its post-Super Bowl slot coming next February. Instead of looking to find the next big thing, or supporting an existing series, it is giving time to another major sporting event: the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

The planning here is unique.

That's because the Super Bowl is running at the same time as the Olympics. The big game airs on February 13. The two-week Winter Olympics broadcast runs February 4-20.

NBCUniversal has made it a point to promote the overlap. As part of its yearly rotation, the Super Bowl and the Olympics are running at the same time on the same network. 

There is also a 13-hour time difference between New York and Beijing. That means at 9 p.m. -- about the time the Super Bowl might conclude New York time -- it would be 10 a.m. the next morning in Beijing. So there could be plenty of daytime sports competition -- possibly the always high-rated figure skating. Ice hockey comes next.

Why this move? Perhaps there are still some pandemic-related production issues afoot -- especially for new or existing scripted entertainment shows.

Does the Olympics need help? Not really. Historically, it gets some of the highest viewing of any TV content over any 16-day period.

Is streaming a factor? Are audiences conditioned -- more than ever -- to think about these platforms after a sporting event has concluded?

The message NBC is sending is that Olympic programming continues to be key holding -- a valued two-week period that needs to maintain its worth in the years to come -- even in the face of ever-rising and popular streaming/connected TV content.

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