Inside NBC’s Olympics bet on pop culture in Paris, with help from Snoop Dogg and Cardi B

By JONATHAN LANDRUM Jr. (AP Entertainment Writer)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — NBC is inserting some pop culture flavor into the world’s biggest sports spectacle: From Megan Thee Stallion dancing with dressage horses at the Palace of Versailles to Peyton Manning riding a giant baguette blimp over the Eiffel Tower, the network has strategically partnered with several big names to build anticipation for the Paris Olympics.

Enlisting a plethora of entertainers and non-Olympic athletes is designed to entice viewers after the network — and longtime Olympics broadcaster in the U.S. — drew lackluster ratings for the last Summer Olympics, in Tokyo, and the Winter Olympics in Beijing. Held amid the coronavirus pandemic, those Games proceeded with muted fanfare and few announcers on-site.

But with over 11 million expected to attend the two-week Summer Games that start July 26, NBC — which holds the broadcasting rights to the Olympics through 2032 — wants to attract more viewers by bringing Olympic stories to life with popular and diverse personalities.

“We speak to a broader audience,” said Snoop Doggwho has been brought on as a primetime NBC correspondent for Paris. The ultra-smooth rapper had become a fan favorite during the Tokyo Games, when he and Kevin Hart did in-studio commentary for Peacock.

Snoop Dogg will be on the ground in Paris by late July, exploring the city’s landmarks and attending competitions and events. He’s already had casual on-video interviews with a few Olympians about their respective sports, including women’s basketball player A’ja Wilsongymnast Sunisa Leeskateboarder Jagger Eaton and beach volleyball players Sara Hughes and Kelly Cheng.

“We have different perspectives and different views,” Snoop Dogg said of the recruited entertainers. “The world that we live in right now, it is appropriate for me to give our side of the story, because we’ve always been a great voice and a great instrument. But we’ve never been the conductor. Now I get to play the role of conductor.”

After the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Games in 2021, NBC created a new playbook to increase excitement for this summer’s coverage. Network researchers found that people between the ages of 26-40 wanted an Olympics that infuses more pop culture into the everyday conversation.

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