The New Ratings War
Well, another Winter Olympics is behind us, and as usual, pundits are focusing on sagging viewership for the games. In fact, the best nights of the entire event were beaten out by shows like American Idol and Desperate Housewives. The funny thing is, NBC doesn’t seem too concerned about it, or at least not as concerned as one might expect a TV network to be. That’s because it has an audience of unprecedented size in another format: the Web.
The traffic for this year’s Olympics were impressive, with more than 260 million page views for the NBCOlympics.com site. It actually had about 10 million more page views than it did during the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, which had much higher (though not ideal) TV ratings. The Web traffic was driven up by a combination of a more tech-savvy population, generally faster Internet connections and NBC’s partnership with Google, which steered search results towards the site.
“There’s a shift in behavior, and people now are looking to this site for coverage and they’re consuming the video in ever-increasing numbers,” NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel said. (Source: Chicago Tribune)
Advertisers are noticing, too. “At the end of the day, we may find out the number of people experiencing the Olympics didn’t decrease,” said Curt Hecht, executive vice president of General Motors’ media agency, GM Planworks. “I think it’s just viewership on a different screen.” (Tribune)
The Web has added another dimension to the battle for eyeballs in media and advertising spheres. And we probably won’t have to wait until the 2008 Olympics in Beijing to see more stark examples of this fact.