It’s not ‘show friends,’ it’s ‘show business’: Images, product placement and celebrities make event a standout |

It’s not ‘show friends,’ it’s ‘show business’: Images, product placement and celebrities make event a standout

Susan Wood
Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Gary Quinn, director of business development for NBC Sports, looks forward to the network's first year providing high-definition capability.

STATELINE – The big business behind the American Century Championship for celebrity golfers is all about exposure – from the here and now to the far and beyond.

For three days, the splendor of Lake Tahoe at the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course is splattered throughout the airwaves in front of 6.5 million viewers who may turn into future visitors.

The eight hours of air time has remained steady in the 17 years NBC Sports has covered the signature event for Tahoe that runs through Sunday.

And this year, viewers may notice sharper images, with it being the first year the network offers the capability for high definition television. The technology touches provide the masses with a natural appreciation of Tahoe – with images of real-time Tahoe during the golf tournament and on commercials touting the $1 million Blue World advertising campaign. The spots will air once a day.

“With a backdrop like this, not many events look as good as Tahoe,” said Gary Quinn, director of business development for NBC Sports. Most networks are transitioning into high definition television, with the idea the number of households will grow from the 7 percent currently using it.

The Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority is unable to quantify the impact of the event on the South Shore economy, but Executive Director Patrick Kaler said he’s heard the pass-along benefit to the area is almost immeasurable.

“All the TV time – it’s amazing what comes out of it,” he said. “Every year, a majority of these (fans) come here and stay until Monday.”

When LTVA sales manager Sue Barton goes to her native home of Barbados, the people there tell her they’re familiar with Tahoe through the celebrity golf tournament.

The LTVA’s Web booking service only reported 19 properties with availability.

Coming off a solid Fourth of July holiday week, the Station House Inn near Stateline has sold out its 100 rooms through Monday.

“I wasn’t expecting it as busy. This is like a return to the old days,” Manager Eric Eymann said of the South Shore’s banner years for tourism. “It’s fun. You hear people run out of here saying: ‘I saw John Elway.'”

A huge slate of celebrities from veteran quarterback Dan Marino to seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong show up for the tournament. And it’s more than the fans who benefit.

Local businesses from hotels and wedding planners to florists and coffee suppliers see a boost in business at this time.

Alpen Sierra Coffee Co. has doubled the 25 pounds of coffee delivered this week. And the bar tabs are dominated by alcohol sales this week at the Edgewood Tahoe Sports Bar. But plenty of outlets offer food in the tents.

A company may spend about $4,000 to put up a tent along the road and golf course. It’s the first year for the Ritz-Carlton Club, a upscale hotelier breaking ground at Northstar next Wednesday for its first Tahoe property.

And this from our sponsor

American Century, a 50-year-old investment finance company based in Kansas City, has discovered the benefits of associating its name for eight years with the event and its product with one big-name sports celebrity.

“There’s a reason we’ve done this. First and foremost, there’s the brand awareness in partnering with NBC. This allows us to get our name on a major network, and we know our clientele is attracted to golf,” American Century spokesman Brian Spano said, echoing a sentiment from LTVA. American Century’s contract for sponsorship ends next year but is often renewed.

Spano said American Century has even named a portfolio after Armstrong’s “Livestrong” foundation. The company has made a donation and believes the benefits of teaming up with the cycling cancer survivor will grow as fast as a researched, diversified portfolio.

American Century Championship

Golf Tournament Coverage

Golf Channel: Friday: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 9 p.m. (re-air)

NBC Sports: Saturday: 1 p.m.-3 p.m.; Sunday, noon-3 p.m.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.