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Roku and NBCU Tout Olympics Homepage Partnership; Amazon Goes It Alone

Roku's Olympics 'experience'
(Image credit: Roku)

For the next two weeks, if they don’t end up getting canceled because of COVID-19 concerns, Comcast/NBCUniversal’s “2020 Tokyo Games” coverage is going to be darned hard to avoid. 

Starting Tuesday, when a handful of events kick off ahead of the July 23 opening ceremonies, on the homepage of the top connected TV device platform in the U.S., Roku users will have direct access to NBCU’s vast flora and fauna of live, tape-delayed and pre-produced Olympics coverage. 

Prominently embedded among user apps is a thumbnail that will take users to a portal featuring organized menus of NBCU’s Olympics coverage across Peacock, the NBC Television Network and the the various NBCU cable channels, sorted out in menu bars labeled “free daily highlights,” “extended highlights” and “watch by sport.” 

Each menu heading will tell the viewer what apps and subscriptions they might need to see the specific piece of content they've selected. 

The “immersive” Olympics “experience” on Roku players, sticks, smart speakers and enabled smart TVs will run through August 8. 

“As this is Peacock’s first Olympics, we saw a great opportunity to bring the games to life across the Roku platform,” said Maggie McLean Suniewick, president of business development and partnerships, direct-to-consumer for NBCUniversal. “This experience on Roku makes NBC Olympics content unmissable for streamers.”

NBCU has previously leveraged homepage positioning opportunities with Roku, notably to launch the off-network run of comedy classic The Office on Peacock at the beginning of this year. 

The year-delayed Tokyo Olympics, still officially labeled “2020” to mark the event's initially intended sell-by date, were supposed to be a major launch driver for Peacock, which kicked off nationally a year ago last week. 

Dinged with disappointing first-year subscriber metrics but undeterred, NBCU has been aggressive in working with connected TV “gateway” operators like Roku, as well as pay TV presences including Verizon and the National Cable TV Cooperative (NCTC) to create app experiences that drive viewers to Peacock’s Olympics coverage. 

“We know that more engaging, personalized experiences are what consumers expect for this global event and we look forward to using this opportunity to innovate with terrific partners like Roku,” said Matt Bond, chairman of content distribution for NBCUniversal.

Meanwhile, one of Roku’s biggest rivals, Amazon, has also altered its Fire TV homepage experience to acknowledge the Tokyo Games. Curiously, Amazon doesn't mention the word "olympics" even once. 

Amazon has created its own homepage-accessible Fire TV landing page, directing users to the various event coverage across apps. Amazon—which only recently ended an 11-month-long impasse with NBCU for support of the Peacock app on Fire TV—doesn’t mention that its landing page is Olympics-related, merely stating that its for “sports” events and will stay on the platform for 17 days. 

Amazon Fire TV sports 'experience'

(Image credit: Amazon)