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Did you watch the opening ceremony of the Olympics Friday evening? All 5 hours of it? Including commercials? According to NBC Olympics chief marketing officer, John Miller, the reason for the delays and nearly endless commercials was women.

According to Miller, “The people who watch the Olympics are not particularly sports fans. More women watch the Games than men, and for the women, they're less interested in the result and more interested in the journey.”


Not As Many Watched This Journey

According to Nielsen, the 2016 Olympics opening ceremony attracted 26.5 million viewers on Comcast Corp.’s (NASDAQ:CMCSAC) NBC network Friday evening. This represents a 35% drop from the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony. That broadcast pulled in 40.7 million viewers.

All that added up to the lowest-rated Summer Games kickoff since 2004, when the Olympics were held in Athens, Greece. NBC did not blame delays and commercials (as many viewers did) but instead said, “To expect the same pure television consumption four years removed from London just isn’t logical.”

Doing It Digitally

Instead, NBC said, it expected overall consumption to be boosted by people viewing online, via mobile devices and through various subscription services.

To that end Comcast has invested heavily in an attempt to secure all U.S. media rights for the Olympics through 2032. The spending on Rio alone has been pegged at $1.2 billion.

Whether the push to online consumption will pay for the investment remains to be seen, although Comcast said it sold more than $1.2 billion in national ads ahead of the opening ceremony.

Back To The Female Focus

Some sports writers and not a few fans object to the emphasis on the stories behind the athletes versus the actual competitions themselves. NBC is sticking to the narrative, which coincidentally is exactly what they believe women watching the Olympics want.

The approach isn’t new to NBC which has been advancing what The Washington Post calls a “paperback romance novel” focus for many years. Even the Post admits the packaging is smart and most pieces are well done.

The thing advertisers care about, however, is ratings. So far in Rio that part hasn’t been a big success – witness the 16.5 overnight rating for the Opening Ceremonies.


Result: Ads Aimed At The Ladies

From Nike Inc. (NYSE:NKEC) with its ad spotlighting India’s female athletes to Procter & Gamble Co.’s (NYSE:PGC) effective “Thank You, Mom,” spot, national and international advertisers are making sure the majority of women watching the Olympics have something aimed at them when those many commercial breaks take place during the summer games.

Then there’s Under Armour Inc. (:UAN/A) and its ad showing a fierce women’s gymnastics team in action. None of this is new. As long ago as 2008, both summer and winter Olympic games advertisers were keenly aware that unlike most sporting events, the Olympics attract women.

In addition to P&G, Nike and Under Armour, look for more female-focused advertising from other major sponsors including The Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE:KOC), McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE:MCDC) and even Visa Inc. (NYSE:VD).

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