NBC: Surrounding consumers with programming helped drive prime time

In U.S. media circles, the London Games will be known as the first truly digital Olympics. For the first time, NBC streamed every event live online, and NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus believes the online effort helped drive interest around the Games and pumped up the network’s prime-time ratings.

“We have believed from the beginning that a multiplatform approach to surrounding consumers with Olympic programming leading to a prime time on NBC would make people want to gather even if they knew the results,” Lazarus said following the opening weekend of London 2012. “That seems to be playing out.”

At press time, the London Games were on pace to set a viewership record on broadcast TV and cable TV.

NBCOlympics.com an online hit

NBC released numbers behind its extensive digital offerings through the London Games’ first week.

1.117 billion page views

102.6 million total videos streamed

45 million live videos streamed

7.6 million devices authenticated by cable, satellite and telco customers

Source: NBC
But they already obliterated digital numbers that came out of Beijing. The 102.6 million total video streams in the first week was higher than all of Beijing. The 45 million live video streams was more than three times higher than Beijing.

Visitors to NBCOlympics.com were spending 27 minutes per visit on the site, which more than doubled the time spent during the Beijing Olympics.

NBC was able to sell $60 million worth of ads around its digital offering. The network doesn’t sell digital ads on its own; instead, they are packaged with a more traditional TV buy.

“We have more live event programming [on television] going against itself than ever before. It’s all above where it was historically,” Lazarus said. “Simultaneous to that, we are streaming everything live. Every frame of every event that’s taking place at these Games is being streamed and available. I think it’s a technological feat that’s never been tackled.”

It’s too early to determine how this will play out in Sochi or Rio, Lazarus said. But based on the numbers coming out of London, it seems certain that NBC Sports will continue to build its digital business around the Olympics.

“It’s an evolving technology. It’s an evolving business. It’s evolving consumer habits,” Lazarus said. “Invariably, what we do in Sochi will be different from what we’re doing here. We will evolve our coverage. I haven’t thought of how. Nothing should stay the same from Games to Games.”

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