NBCU Unveils New TV Commerce Capabilities Ahead of Summer Olympics

Mockup of the water-based Olympics Opening Ceremony set to take place on the Seine River July 26.

NBCUniversal has unveiled a series of new capabilities aimed at “bringing television advertising into the performance marketing future” and enhancing TV-enabled commerce opportunities as it readies for the kickoff of the Summer Olympics on July 26, 2024.

NBCU's new Virtual Concessions ad format for movie marathons and live sporting events.
NBCU’s new Virtual Concessions ad format. (Image courtesy NBCU)

Just in time for the event, NBCU has rolled out a new commerce-led ad format called Virtual Concessions that will allow sporting events viewers (or folks settling in for a movie marathon) to purchase food, beverages and other items from their TV to be delivered to their doorstep. The capability will officially launch during the Olympic and Paralympic Games Paris 2024 presentation.

Beyond the Olympics, NBCU also is continuing to expand its Must ShopTV offering across six franchises on its Peacock streaming platform. These include the previously announced integration with Below Deck as well as new integrations with Love Island USA, Southern Charm, Summer House, Top Chef and Winter House. The Must ShopTV program uses AI technology from KERV Interactive to identify objects in a scene and find similar items available for sale at retail partners or on NBCU’s own third-party marketplace, NBCUniversal Checkout. These offerings are presented to viewers throughout the show in the form of QR-enabled shoppable ads.

Additionally, in partnership with its parent company Comcast, NBCUniversal also will pilot an interactive shoppable integration with NBCUniversal Checkout on the Xfinity X1 entertainment platform throughout the 21st season of Bravo’s Top Chef. This new integration will allow fans with an X1 system to use their remote to browse and shop products inspired by the show.

Working to Deliver Digital Performance on TV Content

Alongside these commerce-focused efforts, NBCU also is working to enhance the performance and targeting of ads on its connected TV platforms.

The company announced that it is now using generative AI to power audience targeting and drive advertiser performance. The new capability analyzes content across the NBCUniversal portfolio and pairs it with the company’s first-party data sets to produce “emotion-based, AI-powered audience segments.” NBCUniversal said it already has developed 300 “highly predictive” segments that allow marketers to connect with “the right audiences with the right content.”

And for the first time, NBCUniversal’s presentation of the Olympic and Paralympic Games will be available to advertisers programmatically through a partnership with The Trade Desk, meaning that advertisers will now have biddable access to connect with audiences throughout the Games.

“Television today is a full-funnel performance vehicle where marketers can launch, build and grow their brands across any screen at scale,” said Mark Marshall, Chairman, Global Advertising and Partnerships, NBCUniversal in a statement. “We’re continuing to drive our legacy of innovation, moving consumers from aspiration to action and partnering with marketers of all sizes to use technology to move their businesses forward.” 

An Opening Ceremony Like no Other

If NBCU’s Upfronts are any indicator, this year’s Olympics will be a television spectacle like no other, with a range of enhanced viewing options and a waterside Opening Ceremony that will be screened live at IMAX locations across the U.S. This year’s Opening Ceremony on July 26 will mark the first not held in a stadium. Instead, athletes from the more than 200 participating countries will travel along the Seine River in Paris in a flotilla of nearly 100 boats as spectators watch from the banks.