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  • NBC Says TV Still King for Olympics as Digital Platforms Grow


    NBC research says 55 percent of people who used the NBC Web site via laptops or mobile phones were watching TV at the same time. (Getty Images)
    (ATR) Many viewers in the United States are accessing the Olympic Games on television, laptops and mobile devices at the same time, NBC research reveals.

    Alan Wurtzel, President of Research, NBC Universal, says early findings from the “Billion Dollar Lab” in Vancouver have accelerated understanding of the media environment and its future.

    “Big-event programming remains huge,” he says, “and the Olympics is the gold standard of a big-event show.”

    While use of digital and mobile platforms is increasing, “Television is still king,” Wurtzel says, adding that 93 percent of the Olympics is still being consumed on television.

    Research showed 55 percent of people who used the NBC Web site via laptops or mobile phones were watching TV at the same time.

    “There are huge implications here for content providers and for advertisers,” Wurtzel says.

    For the first three days of the Olympics, people who consumed the Olympics on television and the Internet watched 31 percent more television than those who only used TV.

    NBC figures that 171 million U.S. viewers – more than half of the population – had watched the Vancouver Olympics with seven days to go.

    “People want to share common cultural experiences,” Wurtzel says, “and in this world, there aren’t many opportunities to do that.”

    He says mobile devices provided a substandard viewing experience in Beijing, but were ready for Vancouver. “Now one out of four are smartphones, so the ability to browse the Internet and view video is tremendously enhanced.”

    Some of the statistics should especially please the IOC, which is trying to keep the Olympics relevant for youth.

    Growth among the 18-24 age group is up 57 percent, while growth among the 15-17 age group is up 40 percent.

    Wurtzel says the Olympics are a huge family viewing experience in a world where families often don’t eat dinner together. He says 77 percent of parents interviewed are using the Olympics as an opportunity to teach their children positive values.

    Viewers are using the Internet to supplement their television watching. Arbitron research shows that 93 percent of the people who watched Apolo Anton Ohno win a silver medal in short-track never saw it on television. But 44 percent of those who watched Johnny Weir’s short program in figure skating online had already seen it on television.

    “It allows viewers to relive the moment,” Wurtzel says.

    Half the people using did not use the site in Beijing. With seven days left in the Olympics, page views were more than double those during the Turin Games.

    “We thought sitting in front of a computer was a solitary experience, but two-thirds of people have watched video with someone during the Olympics,” Wurtzel says.

    Research also found that watching the Olympics inspired 38 percent to exercise more, 40 percent are more tired than usual and 35 percent cried or were teary-eyed (25 percent among men).

    Finally, 33 percent said if they could invite any Olympian over for a family meal, they would choose U.S. halfpipe gold medalist Shaun White.

    Written by Karen Rosen.

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