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Paralympics Gets a Paris Spotlight as NBCUniversal, U.S. Committee Tap into Uplifting Stories and Inspiring Athleticism
Paralympics Gets a Paris Spotlight as NBCUniversal, U.S. Committee Tap into Uplifting Stories and Inspiring Athleticism
turnover time:2024-06-13 09:04:59

Paralympics Gets a Paris Spotlight as NBCUniversal, U.S. Committee Tap into Uplifting Stories and Inspiring Athleticism1

NBCUniversal is envisioning a day when the Paralympics, the international multisport event for athletes with disabilities, achieve a level of prestige, recognizability and enthusiastic fandom on par with the Olympic Games that inspired them.

In preparations for next years Olympics telecasts, the media conglomerate on Nov. 16 revealed its high-tech content creation operations across a two-soundstage hub on the Universal Studios lot. The elaborate production infrastructure features a multitude of dynamic video and photographic platforms to showcase not only the elite United States athletes of the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris across the companys numerous platforms, but also to celebrate their Paralympian counterparts, wholl compete in the City of Light just a few weeks later.

We have been on a pretty steep trajectory with Paralympics, I would say coming out of London and Rio [Olympics], with our sights set on L.A. [in 2028] as the opportunity to take the Paralympics to where it belongs, in terms of its position as one of the biggest, greatest sports events, NBC Olympics president Gary Zenkel tells Variety. The more we can bring these two things together despite some of the distance and the actual spacing of the games, I think the better both events will ultimately come out.

Paralympics Gets a Paris Spotlight as NBCUniversal, U.S. Committee Tap into Uplifting Stories and Inspiring Athleticism2

Olympic diver Tyler Downs at work on NBCUniversals Olympic content production facilitity on the Universal backlot. (Photo: Todd Williamson/NBC Sports) Todd Williamson/NBC Sports Zenkel says NBCUniversal has been working in concert with the United States Olympic Paralympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee to elevate the profile of the Paralympics through a symbiotic connection to the more widely viewed Olympics. Were talking a lot about what is that journey, what are the next four and a half years, he says. Obviously Paris being a critical moment, but then how do we march our way so that theres an engagement, theres an understanding, theres an appreciation, inspiration and excitement around these great athletes, great humans.

Molly Solomon, executive producer and president of NBC Olympics Production, noted that the second week of the networks Olympics coverage will shine a spotlight on several shining stars among the Paralympians by sharing their inspiring and deeply moving personal stories while making sure to emphasize theyre also top-tier competitors in their chosen sports.

The para-athletes say Lets also focus on the event itself. because Im an athlete, says Solomon. We always want to both balance the background story, but also this is a heck of a sporting event.

The company is also using the collaboration to identify opportunities to increase its workplace accessibility for its behind-the-scenes production personnel. We think theres something bigger than covering just sports, but making sure that were a better company for it, and we can really holistically cover this movement in a way that it should be covered, says Solomon. The Paralympic movement is pushing all of us to be better.

Using cutting edge production techniques, such as ILM Stagecrafts dynamic, massive virtual background screens (best known for their use creating otherworldly environs for The Mandaorian via The Volume) to showcase Olympians and Paralympians demonstrating their skills against Parisian backdrops including the Eifel Tower and the Seine helps create the opportunity for a Paralympian to demonstrate their athleticism in some way through either emotion, through their sport or something else, says Jenny Storms, NBCs chief marketing officer for entertainment sports. That has to come through. The American public has to connect with that and understand, Wow, that is amazing, what theyre able to do.

Similarly the athletes undergo more intimate, freewheeling shooting sessions on the lots Lifestyle Stage, That is the time when the Paralympian is in their street clothes or in their Saturday going-out clothes and theyre telling their story, and so many times that story involves what happened with their lives, who inspired them, what is meaningful to them, says Storms.

Such content, which will be deployed across many varied NBCU platforms prior to and during both the Olympics and Paralympics enables the network to dramatically bolster athletes social media profiles. Theyre not trained in social media theyre athletes, theyre training 20 out of 24 hours a day, says Storms. They dont know what to do, when to post, how do you do this? So weve decided to help them.

Katie Bynum, chief strategy and growth officer for USOPC, says the organization sees a two-pronged approach taken with NBCUniversal to growing the profile of the Paralympics and raising appreciation for the athleticism on display.

Theres kind of a two-pronged way to approach how we elevate the Paralympic games, and its giving them a platform on their own, but its also integrating them with the Olympians, says Katie Bynum, chief strategy and growth officer for USOPC. [The Paralympians] love the opportunity to tell their story and to normalize disability in any form and to showcase what theyre capable of doing through the Paralympic games, and we are so proud to tell their story.

(Pictured top: Paralympian Jessica Long of Baltimore during the Team USA Road to Paris Bus Tour)

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