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Volume 20 No. 42
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Lazarus: ‘Surrounding consumers with Olympic 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.

NBC’s extensive online coverage obliterated the numbers that came out of Beijing.
“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.

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 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.”

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.” 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