NBC is learning much more about who watched its coverage of the London Olympics — and as importantly how they watched them. It’s information the network hopes will help it turn a profit on future Olympic Games since NBC has all U.S. TV rights through 2020 via a successful $4.38 billion bid in June. A record 217 million U.S. viewers watched the Summer Games last month, and results from a dozen studies of the viewing habits of 50,000 participants have been revealed to the New York Times ahead of presentations to advertisers next week.
The most interesting tidbit out of the NYT piece: The network said the practice of live-streaming all events for the first time didn’t cannibalize primetime viewership. In a study with comScore, people who tuned in using four devices — a TV, tablet, personal computer and smartphone — spent more time each day watching the Olympics (5 hours and 34 minutes) than viewers who watched only TV (three hours and 12 minutes). NBC said it shifted thinking during the Games after seeing such results, opting to live-stream the Closing Ceremony after memorably not live-streaming the Opening Ceremony. That original decision led to massive complaints (remember the #NBCFail hashtag on Twitter?) before most of the competition even began that continued throughout the 17 days of coverage.
— 8 million people downloaded NBC’s mobile apps for streaming video, and there were 2 billion page views across NBC’s websites and apps over the 17 days. The two most-streamed events were the women’s soccer final and women’s gymnastics; those two events surpassed all videos streamed during all of the 2008 Vancouver Games.
— 46% of 18- to 54-year-olds said they “followed the Olympics during my breaks at work,” and 73% said they “stayed up later than normal” to watch; 46% said they delayed household chores to watch.
— There were 83 million Olympics-related comments on social media sites, or about 4.9 million a day.
— In a study measuring viewers’ recollections of 56 brands, those advertising during the coverage, especially if the ads were related to the Olympics, registered better recall. And three-quarters of viewers said they liked ads that incorporated the Olympics somehow.