NBC Olympics Coverage | TV Beats The Web Easily In Beijing 2008 Viewer Numbers

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Beijing 2008 Olympics On YouTubeThis Olympic Games sees the Web competing for viewers with traditional TV for the first time in Olympic history. But will the Internet do as well as hoped?

I had high hopes that the Olympics Games in Beijing were going to be a high point for Web television, and prove that more people are turning to the Internet for coverage than ever before.

While it may be true that Beijing 2008 has more coverage online than any Olympics before it, and that the Web viewing figures are healthy so far, traditional TV is still beating it by a huge margin.

Delayed Opening Ceremony

The Olympics kicked off with an extravagant opening ceremony, but NBC decided to delay showing it on television because it just wouldn’t have drawn enough money from advertisers at such an early hour.

While many people turned to the Web for an alternative live screening, Nielsen Ratings for American television on Friday indicate that the vast majority of people were happy to wait.

TV Ratings

NBC beat all of its competitors by a huge margin. The average viewing for the prime time portion of the Olympics coverage was 35.1 million, with total viewing figures of 70 million.

Before the Olympic Games, many were wondering if the Internet would break under the weight of all the streaming coverage, but the officially released viewing figures for NBCOlympics.com reveal a rather disappointing beginning.

Web Ratings

An article on ZDNet shows that on Friday only about 4.2 million users watched 1.3 million video streams. Saturday and Sunday, once the events began properly, they rose to 4.8 million users/3.15 million streams and 5.1 million users/3.42 million streams respectively.

This obviously does show an increase, so it’s possible that the Olympic will become more watched on the Web as the Games proceed, possibly due to more people learning that coverage is available on the Internet. But it’s not a great start.

There also seems to be a problem when it comes to attention spans. While people will sit in front of the TV for hours on end, the 10-15 minute average time spent on the website shows that the Internet is seen as a different beast. I blame YouTube.

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