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NBCU: 6% of Olympic Viewing on Alternative Platforms

NBC Universal executives in Beijing said their Total Audience Measurement Index (TAMi) more than reinforced what NBCU has long believed -- that a substantial number of people are consuming 2008 Olympic Games content on alternative platforms, and that those viewings have not dragged down traditional TV viewership.

“Everything has changed but nothing has changed,” NBC Olympics president Gary Zenkel said. “There have never been more options for viewing the Olympics” -- but people are still massing around the TV to watch Michael Phelps during primetime.

Friday’s aggregate TAMi tally was 74.6 million for the Opening Ceremonies -- 94% of that was on television, 5.7% was online, 0.03% watched on a mobile application and 36,000 (0%) watched via video-on-demand.

President of research Alan Wurtzel was heartened to see various categories grow over the first four days of the Games. Web viewing, for one, grew from 4.8 million uniques Saturday, the first day of actual competition, to 7.8 million Monday, Aug. 11. TV viewing mostly grew during the same period. “The Internet hardly cannibalizes television viewing,” he said. “It actually fuels interest.”

Wurtzel also spoke of the “wonderful halo” effect of the Olympics for advertisers, reporting that brand recall among viewers was 85% higher during Olympics spots than during conventional primetime.

He added that NBC’s various cable channels showing the quadrennial competition, such as CNBC and MSNBC, were seeing substantial ratings increases over their typical programming.

While he conceded that TAMi was a work in progress, Wurtzel said the program would play a meaningful role in measuring NBC’s ratings performance this fall.