NBC Sports Network took the air in earnest on Monday almost exactly one year after Comcast’s acquisition of NBCUniversal was finalized. In just under 12 months, the deal has changed the face and production model of NBC Sports, creating a new division, NBC Sports Group, which gathers all Comcast and NBC sports entities under a single umbrella.
With that synergistic model in mind, Versus was relaunched as the NBC Sports Network on Monday complete with a new graphics package that aims to take advantage of the network’s most valuable weapon: the Peacock.
“There is a recognition value in the Peacock and the three chimes that is absolutely invaluable, especially when building a graphics package from the ground up,” says Tripp Dixon, VP/creative director, NBC Sports Network. “The challenge was how to carry that forward into this new era.”
In April, former NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol went public with the news that Versus would undergo a rebrand (although the NBC Sports Network moniker was not officially announced until August), and, soon after, the creative teams from Versus and NBC Sports got to work developing a new look for both the network and the NBC Sports Group as a whole.
“One of the biggest challenges was the fact that this was two groups coming together for the first time,” says Mark Levy, VP/creative director, NBC Sports and Olympics. “Rather than just NBC doing a rebrand of its graphics package, this was an overhaul of two separate groups into a single vision.”
Once the NBC Sports Network logo was established over the summer, the two groups had the “bedrock” on which to base the graphics package. The network logo incorporates the Peacock and NBC insignia with a few slight modifications.
“The Peacock and NBC Sports logo have a lot of brand equity, but we needed to modernize it a bit, so we took it back into the shop and tweaked it,” says Levy. “The value of the Peacock lies in its extraordinary legacy and color palette. It allows us to create a look and feel that is very vibrant. That is an opportunity in our favor when you start from ground zero on a graphics package.”
From there, the creative teams set out to design a package that accomplished a few chief goals:
- Reinforce the “storytelling” element that NBC Sport has always hung its hat on for decades
- Integrate elements so they feel natural in their environments (whether it be a studio, live game, or promotion)
- Establish a consistent communication pattern that would make it easy for the viewer to find NBC Sports Network and understand its programming
- Create a graphics DNA that allows for future expansion and lends itself to both major events (Super Bowl and Olympics) as well as to daily programming.
“The majority of what you’ll see on NBC Sports Network will have a similar look across the board [regardless of the program],” says Levy. “With that in mind, our goal has always been to raise the level of the storytelling rather than create something that looks cool and interesting but takes away from the story on the field.”
Another consideration was the upcoming Olympics Games in London, which will have a massive presence on NBC Sports Network — both during the Games and before, when the network will air hundreds of hours of Olympic trials.
In the past, NBC has created a new look and graphics package for every Olympic Games. However, to develop an identifiable look for the new network, NBC has decided to carry the bulk of the new graphics package into the Games this June.
“Our intent with this [package] was to take this look across the Games with some very slight deviation,” says Levy. “We believed it was important that the Olympics would have the same look and feel, considering it was just seven months out from the birth of this new network. At the Olympics, you will see 80% of what you’re seeing now on NBC Sports Network.”
On the audio side, Levy and Dixon also worked with composers to build a new custom theme for the network, which will be used in both short bumpers and long-form content.
“We wanted something that was fresh but also kept that NBC-brand recognition in its composition,” says Levy. “We debuted it [on Monday] and are very happy with it.”