NBC Taps Into a Massive Database of Digital Info From the Olympics to Get a Picture of the Future of TV

Sep 27, 2012  •  Post A Comment

NBCUniversal is mining material from a massive database of digital info gathered during the London Olympics to gain insights into how viewers watched the Games and what it might say about the future of television, The New York Times reports.

The material is contained in what NBCU calls its “Billion Dollar Research Lab.”

“The research did not cost $1 billion, but NBCUniversal paid more than four times that sum in 2011 to broadcast the Olympics through 2020. As part of that giant tab, the media company gets an exceptional opportunity to study viewers’ behavior,” the report notes.

“The findings of the studies, shared with The New York Times, revealed vast shifts in the way people watched the Games this year compared with the Olympics in Vancouver in 2010 and in Beijing in 2008, and they offered insight into how television will further evolve into a multiplatform experience.”

Alan Wurtzel, NBCU’s veteran research chief, will present the findings to advertisers at next week’s American Marketing Association conference in Las Vegas and at an Advertising Week event in New York.

“For research wonks there’s no event quite like the Olympics,” the story reports. “Roughly 217 million people in the United States watched the London Games, making it the most watched television event in history. And unlike other big, live events like the Super Bowl or the Academy Awards, the Olympics offer researchers a prolonged, 17-day period during which to study behavior.”

Among the data: NBC had 2 billion page views across its websites and apps, while 8 million people downloaded the network’s mobile apps for streaming video.

Additionally, “46 percent of 18- to 54-year-olds surveyed said they ‘followed the Olympics during my breaks at work,’ and 73 percent said they ‘stayed up later than normal’ to watch, according to a survey of about 800 viewers by the market research firm uSamp.”

The Olympics lab results will end up as a part of NBC’s ad sales pitch, the report notes.

“One study measured viewers’ recollections of 56 brands,” the story reports. “The brands advertising during the coverage, especially if the ads were in some way related to the Olympics, registered better recall. Seventy-six percent of respondents said they ‘enjoyed watching commercials during the Olympics that are tied in some way to the Games.’”

The report adds: “The results signaled vast changes from just two years ago in Vancouver, when tablets and mobile video streaming were still in their infancy. The two most streamed events on any device during the London Olympics, the women’s soccer final and women’s gymnastics, surpassed all the videos streamed during the Vancouver Olympics combined.”

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