NBC: Online Builds Olympics' TV Audience

A study of 3000 cross-platform users reveals they were the most engaged NBC TV viewers of the 2010 Winter Games from Vancouver.

TORONTO -- No cannibalism here: Americans who used two screens at once were NBC’s biggest TV viewers during last year’s cross-platform 2010 Winter Games coverage from Vancouver.  

That’s what NBCUniversal learned tracking the engagement of its 2010 Olympics audience across its TV, online and VOD universe.

Sheryl Feldinger, senior vp of strategic marketing and metrics at NBCUniversal told the BBM Stay Tuned conference in Toronto on Thursday that those who followed the cross-platform Olympics coverage watched twice as much TV as those who leant back on their couches with only a TV clicker in hand.

“And young adults watched three times as much television coverage of the Olympics,” she said.

To measure total audience across multiple platforms during the Vancouver Olympics, NBCUniversal turned to Arbitron and Omniture to help add an Internet measurement to the existing TV measurement with PPM.

And around 3,000 people were recruited as lab rats to measure Olympics media consumption on NBC’s main network and cable channels, and online visits to nbcolympics.com.

Breaking out the Olympics media consumption, Feldinger said NBC’s cross-platform coverage was event-driven. The biggest audience spikes came with dramatic medal winning performances by American skier Lindsay Vonn or Canadian skater Sylvie Frechette, who competed despite the death of her mother.

And while media consumers often deferred to the biggest screen in their home, they mostly went to nbcolympics.com for information or to relive dramatic TV moments.

Feldinger reported nbcolympics.com visits were ten minutes on average, but people that viewed TV and online coverage simultaneously spent an average 17 minutes on the website.

The 2010 Olympics TV sport fan findings are key to NBCUniversal as it appeals to advertisers for its upcoming 2010 Summer Games coverage from London.

The takeaway for Feldinger is simultaneous use of platforms makes all ships rise. “That’s good news for us and good news for advertisers,” she told the Toronto conference.

Looking ahead to London, NBC Universal will look to measure Olympics engagement for a single user across three or more screens, including mobile phones.

That will require the broadcaster to find metering solutions for a host of Internet browsers and digital devices, Feldinger said.

Measuring 2012 Games media consumption will also be complicated by a time zone change thrown into the mix.

Feldinger anticipates TV viewers will make greater use of their DVRs and time-shifting when viewing the 2012 Games, and go online during the day at work before returning to their big TV screens for HD coverage in primetime.