NBC’s Lazarus: Olympic coverage ‘over-delivering’ on all platforms

NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus
NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus said Thursday that the network could be profitable on the London Games after losing $200 million on the 2010 Vancouver Games.

“We think there’s a small chance, and a chance we could make a little bit of money,” Lazarus said. “We’ll know over the next couple weeks.”

NBC realized Monday it could re-enter the ad market, and Lazarus said, “Once we got a few days of competition under our belt, we had a degree of confidence that we could sustain at least some level of where the ratings were at. … We have ongoing sales and interest from people who have sort of caught the fever of what’s going on out there and contacted us about buying more inventory.”

Lazarus said the network is “over-delivering” on every platform — TV, online and mobile — through the first six days of the London Games. However, he doesn’t “expect it to necessarily continue every night.”
NBC executives predicted archery would be the breakout sport of the Games, coming off the heels of the movie “The Hunger Games.” It has exceeded expectations as NBC Research President Alan Wurtzel revealed archery has been the most popular Olympic offering on cable.

“Archery is the new curling,” Wurtzel said. “The numbers for archery have been nothing less than huge. It delivered an average of 1.5 million viewers, the highest-rated cable sport, beating out basketball.”
Advertisers are getting positive feedback from the Games, too. Wurtzel said Nielsen IAG’s research showed the teenage audience is up 28 percent, up 52 percent among teenage girls and up 7 percent among teen boys. Among kids aged 2-11, viewership is up 33 percent. Wurtzel said, “We’re cultivating the next Olympic generation.”
Citing information provided by comScore, Wurtzel said NBC’s digital offerings have eclipsed metrics established at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Among the markers through the first six days:

• There have been 28 million visitors to www. NBCOlympics.com, 8 percent higher than 2008.

• The Olympic mobile site has had 4.6 million visits to the mobile site, double the total of ’08.

• Apps for mobile devices have been among the top five in the Apple iTunes store since the Games began, with over 6 million downloads.

• There have been 64 million video streams across all platforms (PC, iPads and iPods), a 182 percent increase. Of those, 29 million were to live events, a more than 300 percent increase from ’08.

• There have been 5.3 million hours of live video streamed, which surpassed the total for the Beijing Games.

• The most-viewed live stream event was the women’s team gymnastics final on Tuesday, which had 1.5 million viewers.
One hiccup on the digital side has been with viewers directed to the NBCOlympic website via Twitter to watch live events. Many viewers are experiencing pre-roll footage prior to seeing their desired event. When the footage concludes, a portion of the programming has been missed.

 “We’re learning as we go here,” Lazarus said. “We’re not trying to put you in a position where you are missing something that you are coming for. We can ‘early up’ our tweets maybe to get people there early so we don’t put you in a position where you are going to miss something. This is part of our grand lab of learning.

“It’s a little bit of a learn-as-you-go, especially with these new technologies. We are committed to making it a better experience every day.”

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