NBC Measures Cross-Platform Viewership, Cites Olympic Gains

Aug 13, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Based on a new system for measuring viewership on multiple platforms, NBC said more than 113 million people watched Olympic programming on Sunday.
NBC is introducing what it calls a Total Audience Measurement Index, which combines into one number the audiences on broadcast and cable television, the Internet, mobile devices and video-on-demand.
NBC has been putting Olympic programming on the Internet and mobile, and its new viewership numbers show that strategy is paying off.
More than 90% of Olympic consumption is still on TV, according to Alan Wurtzel, president of research for NBC Universal, but the Internet and other platforms are helping to drive viewership to levels that may challenge records set during the 1992 Atlanta Olympics.
According to NBC’s research, 28% of Beijing Olympics viewers said they were watching more of the Games this year than four years ago, when there was much less available on other platforms.
“People are using the Internet to consume more Olympic content. It just fuels the interest and increases their engagement,” Mr. Wurtzel said.
Mr. Wurtzel also said NBC’s research shows that advertisers are getting a big bump by being in the Games. Recall scores and other measures of advertising effectiveness are much higher during Olympic programming than in normal prime-time shows, he said.
Television viewing peaked on Sunday, when 107.3 million people tuned in. That day, there were also 5,1 million people looking at Olympic content online, 494,506 using mobile and 27,594 employing video-on-demand.
Those figures do not represent unduplicated viewing. In fact, NBC believes people go to the Web to catch up on events they missed on TV, or to see highlights again. Fewer than 1% said they were watching the Olympics online only, Mr. Wurtzel said.
Over the first four days of the Olympics, online viewership had increased from 4.2 million on Friday to 7.8 million on Monday, NBC said.
“Without question, television is the major driver of the TAMI. Television is the mothership,” Mr. Wurtzel said. “In spite of the fact that it’s a three-platform world, we should never forget that the television network alone is very powerful.”
Mr. Wurtzel said online, the most popular piece of video content was the 4×100 men’s swimming relay won by the U.S. team. That race was seen by 81 million people on TV and then another 1.7 million-plus via video stream. He said 1.5 million video streams were shared.
“It’s fascinating to see how people are using this in a community and viral way,” he said.
Not coincidentally, swimmer Michael Phelps was featured in that relay. While he has unquestionably been a major driver in the popularity of these Olympics, Mr. Wurtzel said viewers may be coming to see him swim, but they are staying to see other events.
Mr. Wurtzel said the Olympics is driving the way people use mobile to consume programming. NBC’s research shows that about half the people using mobile are using it for the first time during the Olympics.
NBC’s cable networks also are showing ratings increases with their Olympic programming in the double-digit and sometimes triple-digit range, Mr. Wurtzel said. The Olympics are giving those channels a chance to promote their regular prime-time programming, which is attracting some additional viewers.
“The results have been phenomenal,” said Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics. “We’re fairly certain that multiplatform distribution is fueling that interest [in network prime time] and driving everyone to share the Olympics together as they have since the beginning. They’re gathering in greater numbers than ever.”
For advertisers, the Games are winning gold medals, according to NBC, which is using IAG Research to measure viewer reaction to ads during the telecasts.
Brand recall for spots is up as much as 85%, message recall is twice as high as during normal prime-time programming and the likability of spots is 80% higher, Mr. Wurtzel said.
“We’ve always known the Olympics is the premier advertising platform and that there’s a halo that rubs off on the advertisers there,” he said, adding that this research demonstrates that ruboff in an empirical way.
Mr. Wurtzel said NBC will be calculating and distributing TAMI numbers for its entertainment, news and sports programming beginning in September.
He said the number is not designed as a currency for ad sales, although some advertisers have experimented with linking their ad buys to the TAMI number. So far, those advertisers have been pleased with the results, he said.
“The Olympics is a significant culture event the nation is sharing. You almost never get that in these days of fractionalized media,” Mr. Wurtzel said.

  August 8 August 9 August 10 August 11
TAMi 74,606,981 97,785,013 113,001,144 103,048,165
TV VOD (uniques)

36,446 (0.0%)

53,306 (0.1%) 27,594 (0.0%) n/a
Mobile (WAP uniques and Mobile VOD uniques) 210,333 (0.3%) 424,974 (0.4%) 494,506 (0.4%) 476,062 (0.5%)
Online (uniques) 4,216,202 (5.7%) 4,831,733 (4.9%) 5,116,044 (4.5%) 7,807,103 (7.6%)
Television 70,144,000 (94.0%) 92,475,000 (94.6%) 107,363,000 (95%) 94,765,000 (92.0%)

Source- NBC (WAP Uniques: Omniture; Mobile VOD uniques: Carriers; TV VOD set-top-box
uniques: Rentrak;

Online uniques: Omniture; Television impressions: Nielsen Media Research)


  1. “More than 90% of Olympic consumption is still on TV”
    This actually appears to understate the case.
    More than 90% of Olympic consumers are using TV, but because they use TV for longer durations that they use the other screen it’s almost certain that over 99% of Olympic consumption is happening on TV. There is a difference. Streaming video hasn’t accounted for even close to 1% of Olympic viewing.


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