Skip to main content, MSN Make Winning Games Move

While NBC Sports owns the rights to the Summer Olympic Games
in London, which begin officially with the opening ceremony on July 27, it
is not the only network and media company that will offer online coverage of
the Games and all the stories surrounding them.

Many sports and news organizations will be sending teams to
London to cover the action and to offer marketers other online environments
through which they can reach consumers.

One of the most ambitious offerings-and one that is giving
its site's advertisers multiple video and print content offerings to sponsor-is, which, in partnership with Microsoft, has created a special
Olympics site.

The site offers breaking news about the Games, current and
past Olympic athlete profiles, photo galleries, videos and a variety of live
and taped shows, which will also include a nightly update and discussion of
results. Several advertisers are sponsoring the site.

Marla Newman, senior VP, ad sales, for, took
some time to discuss the details of the Olympic site.

Where and when did
the idea of this website originate?

The idea originated in May 2011 through discussions with Microsoft,
which already has a partnership with. We were having a discussion
about how we could cover big sports events going forward. They offered to
extend our integrated sports content partnership where we would create a
special website that would be solely devoted to coverage of the Olympics and we
would create customized packages specifically for the site's sponsors' needs.
We jumped right on board. In addition to the content on our own site, is the exclusive provider of Olympics content to, which
has more than 520 million site visitors per month worldwide. We realized
there's a market out there for advertisers who want to engage an Olympics
audience, but, for a variety of reasons, aren't Olympics sponsors. We can
provide a platform through with our coverage and the sponsors can
target their audience without the burden that often comes with being an
official Olympics sponsor.

When did the site
launch and what is the extent of the editorial coverage of the Olympic Games on
the site?

The site launched in April, about 100 days before the opening ceremonies. It
features multimedia content, including editorial, videos, photo galleries,
social media integration, plus a lot more. We will also do live updates. It is
clearly's most ambitious coverage of an Olympics to date.

Who are the
sponsors on the site?

The sponsors include Citibank, T-Mobile, Scottrade, Olive Garden and DeVry

Who is doing the

We have an extensive editorial and production staff there and we also have
a team of four U.S. Olympic gold medalists, Christian Laettner, Dominique
Dawes, Maurice Greene and Amy Van Dyken, who will be doing assorted types of
reporting from London in their respective areas-Laettner in basketball, Dawes
in gymnastics, Greene in track and Van Dyken in swimming. We have a video
show called Inside Edge where each
one of them will give insight into the sports they won their gold medals in.
Laettner, who was a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic basketball dream team, just
did an Inside Edge segment where he
responded to recent comments by Kobe Bryant that the 2012 team could beat the
1992 team. Greene has done "Train Like a Champion" videos talking about what it
takes to be an Olympic athlete.

Jill Arrington, who does the Fox Sports Flash video reports
on, will be doing Olympic Sports Flash [segments] on the Olympic
site throughout the day from Los Angeles, while Laura Okin will
be hosting "In Focus" segments from London where she interviews Olympic
athletes who discuss what inspired them to pursue their respective sports.

Where in London will
the video reporting originate from?

We have a prime location for our set. It is on top of the Westfield Mall,
which is at the entrance of the Olympic Park and the Athlete's
Village and looks down on it. It's a great spot to reach the athletes and
other dignitaries. We are sharing a rooftop location with BSkyB.

How do the
sponsorships work?

The site will have a ton of editorial content and stories along with stat
pages with charts of the medal counts and event results. Scottrade, for
example, will sponsor the medal count page. There will be a large number of
photo galleries and they will be sponsored by Citibank and DeVry. We will have
a game track feature which will basically be showing live events in animation
as they are taking place since we don't have the rights to show any live
telecasts or highlights. That feature will be sponsored by Scottrade. We'll
have pages featuring the athletes, and those will be sponsored by Citibank. We
will have a feature called "London Beat" which is a video series about events
happening surrounding the competition such as parties and red carpet events.
T-Mobile will be promoting the Samsung Galaxy 3 smartphone and we will have
some of our talent using the phones at events taking photos and video. We'll
also have a section where we will be aggregating tweets and that will be
sponsored by T-Mobile. There will be some onscreen branding for the
studio shows. We will also have Olympic roundtables at the end of each day that
will recap the results and will be sponsored by Scottrade and Olive Garden.
Those are just some examples. We have tried to create custom programs and
integrations for all the sponsors.

Are all the
advertisers on the site non-official Olympic sponsors?

Not all of them. Citibank is an official Olympic sponsor but is also a sponsor
on our site.

What is the
attraction for official Olympic sponsors to spend money on sites other than
with NBC?

In general because of certain International Olympic Committee restrictions,
there some things advertisers can't do as official sponsors that they can do on
sites like ours.

Advertising on
sites like the Olympic site, which is not an "official"
Olympic site, falls under the label of Ambush Marketing, which has become
a popular industry term. That description connotes negativity. How do
you view it?

Our site is a high-quality site and offers information in different ways than
the NBC sites do. We do not have the rights to show live competition and highlights
but we are offering other features. We have former Olympic medal winners
offering insight. Our site is a good alternative for advertisers who might be
shut out of the Olympics on NBC because of category exclusivity or who
simply don't have enough of a budget to buy official Olympics packages. We are
giving them an opportunity to advertise around Olympics content and to reach
over 40 million unique visitors through our site. It gives them a chance to
sponsor customized content and a large fan base without spending the huge
amounts of money it takes to become an official Olympic sponsor.

planning to do any other sporting event-specific websites going forward?

We clearly want to walk before we run. But so far we've seen how well this site
has already done and it has opened our eyes to how we can provide a service for
both sports fans and advertisers going forward.

How long will the
site remain up after the Olympic competition ends?

We launched it 100 days prior to the start of the Games and we are planning to
keep it up for at least one month and maybe two months after the Games end.
There won't be any more content added, but it will be there for visitors to go
to as a reference.