Early Email of the 2018 Winter Olympics

Article by John Landsman CATEGORIES: Holiday/Event, Trends & Analysis TAGS:

Let’s start with location:  PyeongChang, South Korea, is about 75 miles southeast of Seoul, but only 40 miles from the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea, and about 180 miles from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.  That’s less than the distance between Boston and New York City.  So, the high tensions on the Korean Peninsula only intensify the large international drama common to all Olympic Games.

But you’d never know it from emails covering the Winter Games. They’re full of all the hoopla and hope usually connected with these maximum-exposure international sporting events, just whistling past the graveyard of nuclear gamesmanship.

We’ve been tracking this year’s Olympics-related emails, and we found the following.

Email generated by the official PyeongChang 2018 Organizing Committee itself is surprisingly light.  Their estimated email audience (what we call “Projected Panel Reach”) is only 135,000, less than 25% the size of the comparable organization’s email audience during 2016’s Rio Summer Olympics.   The newsletter-type email from this PyeongChang domain provides daily updates and shows a 30% average read rate over the past thirty days, despite reaching only about 82% of its recipients’ inboxes.

  • Example: Subject line: [PyeongChang DAY1] PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, 17 Days of Excitement Now Begins!  Mailed February 10th, to an audience of 61K.  Read rate:  3%


It appears that the bulk of official fan-focused email activity for PyeongChang 2018, is being generated by a sending domain run by the International Olympic Committee.  This domain’s estimated panel reach is 3.7 million, and its average 30 day read rates are 12.2%, with a 98% inbox performance.  These campaigns are extensively multi-lingual, and provide daily event information and results recaps.

  • Example: Subject line:  PyeongChang 2018 is finally here!” Mailed February 8th to an audience of 1.2 million.  Read rate:  4%


The other large email gun trained on the American Winter Olympics Audience is NBC Sports, which owns the U.S. broadcast rights to this year’s Olympics.  They’re very actively mailing into a Projected Panel Reach of some 2.5 million, with an average thirty-day read rate of 8.3%, and 93% inbox performance.  Coverage mostly contains event previews and results, and athlete profiles.

  • Example: Subject line: “Watch the Opening Ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics TONIGHT on NBC.”  Mailed February 9th to an audience of 2 million.  Read rate:  2%


In addition, there are the usual emails, mostly focused on athlete profiles and special feature material, to the special audiences of media outlets like NPR, Washington Post, local NBC and other broadcast franchises, and online channels; e.g., Slate. 

  • Example: Subject line: “Here Are The Skaters To Watch In PyeongChang.”  Mailed by Slate on February 9th to an audience of 96K.  Read rate:  8%


Finally, as we also discovered during the Rio games, there is only limited retailer-generated email activity leveraging the PyeongChang Olympics. 

  • Example: Subject line: “Let the Winter Games begin…. (without flying to PyeongChang).”  Mailed by Brookstone on February 8th, to an audience 744K.  Read rate: 12.4%.  Header copy reads, “Go for the gold when the weather gets cold by beating your brother at these games from days old.”  Featured products include air hockey, ping pong and pool tables.


We’ll check on PyeongChang in about ten days, by which time the Games — and February –- will be almost over.  In the meantime, stay warm.