PMG Digital Made for Humans

On the Road to Paris: Navigating the 2024 Paris Olympics Media Landscape

May 22, 2024 | 4 min read

Author's headshot

PMG Insights Team

Comprised of media practitioners, retail strategists, and senior business leaders, the PMG Insights Team creates compelling thought leadership, spearheads proprietary consumer research, and drafts editorial content on the current and future state of the advertising, media, and technology industries.

Hosted in Paris, France, the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games represent an unparalleled opportunity for brands to engage with millions of people worldwide as the power of sport transcends borders, unites cultures, and makes history. Coinciding with this global event is the 2024 U.S. election cycle, a period marked by heightened political messaging and media saturation, leading to increased costs and declines in media efficiency for most advertisers. Brands advertising around the Paris Olympics during this time must expertly navigate the challenges and nuances of communicating emotional brand stories around national pride, unity, and other American values against the backdrop of a politically divided nation.

Media consumption habits have shifted rapidly since the last Summer Olympics. Streaming fragmentation and the growing popularity of social-first video viewing have created new opportunities for brands to connect with audiences during the Games. To account for complex viewing behavior and changing linear TV viewership trends, NBCUniversal (NBCU) adapted its programming slate to a streaming-first media environment. 

Coupled with new interactive viewing features, multi-view functionality that allows viewers to watch up to four different events at once on Peacock, and more seamless storytelling formats and ad packages across platforms, NBCU has embraced the challenges of a fragmented media landscape by committing to deliver an exceptional experience across all channels and platforms for advertisers and sports fans alike. As of last month, NBCU had sold $1.2 billion in advertising for the Paris Games and is on track to achieve a new ad sales record in Olympic history.

Heightened brand competition and some increased media costs are expected throughout the Olympic Games, especially as interest and viewership climb as women’s sports grow more popular among the public and more personal stories of athletes transcend the game to become a part of the cultural zeitgeist

  • High-impact media placements and takeovers during key Olympics moments are largely sold out, and we can expect to see more competition for contextual targeting surrounding Olympics and athlete content among advertisers who aren't official Olympics sponsors.

  • Auction environments may see small amounts of pressure on key days and Olympics moments, such as the opening ceremony, gymnastics, swimming, and other more popular sports, as well as the final rounds of competition across events. However, throughout the Olympics, we don’t expect to see significant cost inflation or competitive pressures for business-as-usual tactics. 

  • In scenarios where advertisers run into decreased efficiency, platform and partner diversification may help combat rising costs.

  • Olympics linear inventory isn't expected to completely sell out, so there may be opportunities to jump in through shorter-term scatter.

  • Other live sports (non-Olympic) are well-sold (MLB and PGA) with some pockets of inventory, but Entertainment Cable and Broadcast is soft, and plenty of avails exist. With new money, networks are open to offering audience guarantees despite scatter-buying and even unlocking added-value elements if minimum investment thresholds are met.

Streaming fragmentation and the growing popularity of social-first video viewing have created new opportunities for brands to connect with audiences during the Games.

Brands will need to work hard to break through. Real-time conversations on social platforms will likely have significant Olympics conversation, so brands will need to remain agile and quickly pivot to join into meaningful conversations. Staying on top of trends is a great “in” for unofficial Olympic sponsors.

This is also the time for brands to lean into unique ad types as the digital marketing landscape evolves. For the first time ever, NBC, in partnership with the Trade Desk, offers programmatic advertising across its many streaming avenues to ensure brands are meeting the right audiences at the right time in the right way. Interactivity will also be a stand-out tactic for brands. Whether it’s leaning into Polls on Meta, Creator Challenges on TikTok, or Virtual Concessions on Peacock, there will be a multitude of opportunities for brands to directly engage and seamlessly integrate shopping opportunities for leaned-in viewers.

We expect influencer marketing to be a primary advertising avenue for the Paris Games, especially for brands that aren't official sponsors. Successful influencer campaigns will go beyond just featuring an athlete's story and, more broadly, tap into Olympic themes like hope, overcoming adversity, and teamwork.

The 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games present a unique opportunity for brands to engage with global audiences through innovative advertising approaches. While navigating heightened competition and potential cost pressures during this politically charged period, brands must craft authentic, emotional stories that resonate with consumers' values of unity, national pride, and shared humanity.

By leveraging emerging ad formats, influencer marketing, and real-time social conversations, agile marketers can break through the clutter and forge meaningful connections with viewers across fragmented media channels. Those who skillfully align their messaging with the unifying power of the Olympic spirit stand to leave a lasting impression on audiences worldwide.