Let The Games Begin: TV’s Revolution Plays Out Before Our Eyes

It’s hardly novel for NBC to tout the viewership for its Olympics coverage. But the network’s press briefing on August 11 — Day 6 of the Rio games — was notable for its confirmation of how streaming, mobile devices and social media are starting to transform a half-century of traditional television distribution and viewing practices.

Yes, linear broadcast still dominates the games viewing — although, through Day 5, it was actually down versus the last Olympics.

Mark Lazarus, chairman of the NBC Sports Group, reported that the NBC broadcast coverage through Day 5 averaged a 15.6 rating and garnered a 29 share. Meaning that “nearly one-third of televisions in use have been tuned to NBC in prime time,” he stressed.

However, while Rio’s 28.6 million average audience through Day 5 was indeed “the highest-rated prime-time series since the London Olympics,” as Lazarus pointed out, it was still more than 20% lower than the 36.5 million average for the London games, reported The New York Times.

Lazarus also emphasized that 17% of adults watching the games in prime time have been 18- to 34-year-olds, versus 10% of adults watching prime-time programming over the course of the 2015-2016 television season, adding: “This young audience is a large reason that our digital numbers are way up.”

But the 18- to 34- prime-time viewership for NBC broadcast-only was down by about 30% versus London.

Total Audience Delivery Tool
The results are a mixed bag for NBCUniversal, which is using its newly developed Total Audience Delivery (TAD) tool for the Rio games. TAD enables measuring average minute viewership across broadcast, cable and digital streaming platforms in order to produce a “Nielsen-like metric,” in the words of NBCU president of research and media development Alan Wurtzel.

And those metrics are indicating that much of broadcast’s loss is being countered by gains in cable — NBCU’s Bravo and NBCSN networks, in particular — and, to a smaller extent, by the online streaming option.

The Rio Olympics are the first to offer U.S. prime-time coverage on channels other than the primary broadcast network, as well as the first to stream the broadcast network coverage, including prime time, simultaneously on digital platforms.

NBC Olympics coverage on other channels plus digital streaming lifted prime-time viewership by at least 7% each night through Day 5, NBCU stressed in its stats release.

For instance, on Saturday, August 6, NBC’s broadcast-only prime-time viewership was 20.6 million, but total or TAD viewership was 14% higher, at 23.5 million.

However, on Tuesday night, the total average audience of 36.1 million — 2.7 million for cable-plus-streaming, added to the broadcast’s 33.4 million — was still 5 million below the comparable night in London (when there was no simultaneous cable and streaming), reported The Times. Cable accounted for 2.3 million viewers, while about 404,000 were streaming live video and earlier events.

During Thursday’s press briefing, Lazarus said that, thus far, there was no reason to have to offer make-goods to advertisers. He said that while broadcast was down “a little bit,” the increases in cable and streaming were mitigating the difference.

… read on at mediapost.com

Originally posted by at MediaPost
12th August 2016

NBCU’s Alan Wurtzel will be speaking at the asi Television Conference in Budapest, Hungary, on 2nd-4th November 2016