NBC winning big in the games

August 11, 2008

swim.jpg NBC is putting up big numbers so far in the Olympics.

Start with the opening ceremony. While some complained that the event couldn’t be seen live in the United States, the move to delay the broadcast and run it during prime-time paid dividends. Some 34 million viewers tuned in, up about 35 percent since the last summer games.

Indeed, helped by the splashy opening ceremony and the star power of swimmer Michael Phelps, NBC is setting the stage for what could be record Olympic viewership in America.  Over the first two days of its coverage, NBC has attracted a record 114 million total viewers – 4 million more than Atlanta in 1996 and nearly 20 million more than Athens in 2004.

Those numbers suggest that Web coverage hasn’t taken away from NBC’s TV audience.

As the Wall Street Journal writes:

In the first two days of the games, 90% of viewers watched the Games on TV alone, with nearly 10% watching on TV and online, according to Alan Wurtzel, NBC’s president of research. Only 0.2% watched on the Internet alone, Mr. Wurtzel said.

“The streaming will not diminish the ratings,” said Neal Pilson, a sports-media consultant who advised the International Olympic Committee in negotiations for broadcast rights. “It encourages viewers and provides them with information. There will be no dilution or fragmentation of the national audience.”

The results so far are likely a big relief for NBC, which, as MarketWatch points out, is hoping for a spillover effect from the Olympics:

The Beijing Games will have far-reaching benefits, NBC fervently hopes. The network believes that the widely watched and discussed Games will serve as the ideal lead-in for NBC’s fall prime-time line-up. In addition, Walt Disney’s ABC morning and evening news programs have been nipping at the heels of NBC’s pace-setting “Today” and “Nightly News” shows.

Keep an eye on: 

  • WPP says that German market researcher GfK was misleading the market about its intentions to acquire British rival Taylor Nelson Sofres (Reuters)
  • Internet conglomerate IAC/InterActiveCorp is moving ahead with plans for splitting up the company, saying spin-offs of its divisions would occur on August 21 (Reuters)
  • A major shareholder says cable television operator Cablevision Systems Corp should sell one of its units to raise cash for an aggressive stock buyback rather than break up the whole business (Reuters)

(Photo: Reuters)

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