NBC’s Digital Olympics: Mobile Growth Huge, TV Ratings Not Affected

NBC released its full numbers from the Olympics Monday, and to no surprise the peacock network set viewership records in just about every category. I’m sure most of you have your own opinion already (#NBCfail) about how NBC actually performed, but on one level it’s simply true that for sheer totality of coverage, this Olympics offered the most live and archived video ever, and will likely set a standard for other big events to follow.

What we hope, of course, is that they learn the lesson NBC learned the hard way — that people want the ability to see events LIVE, whenever they are happening — AND, most importantly, that even if you show something live you will still have humongous audiences for your weirdo 1950s prime-time shows with announcers who seem to only emerge every four years, like cicadas. I mean, really — Al Trautwig? But I digress. On to the numbers:

First, the broadcast numbers — NBC “killed it,” as the kids would say, but just barely — up to 219 million viewers, just surpassing Beijing totals of 215 million. What matters to us here at MSR, of course, are the digital numbers, and there was a mild surprise in that unique visitors to the NBCOlympics.com website increased only slightly from the Beijing Games, with 57.1 million uniques this year compared to 51.8 in 2008 (see chart we screen-grabbed below). Mobile unique users, however, rocketed off the charts — 10.1 million uniques for the NBCOlympics mobile web site (compared to 6.5 million in 2008) and another 11.2 million downloads of the Olympics Live Extra app.

What do those numbers tell us? That the audience for mobile device viewing is still growing rapidly while the online audience is plateuing. All these numbers could also conceivably be much much bigger when you understand that because of the necessity of having a cable contract to view online, NBC limited itself to a potential audience pool of 100 million, which is the number of cable customers NBC said was eligible to watch the games online via its sites.

Some more tidbits: When it came to live streams, 63% of live streams were viewed on the web, 37% in the Live Extra App; and our favorite stat: “Users are averaging 111.4 live streaming minutes per viewer on the web and 94.3 live streaming minutes per viewer on the app.” So, that means that having a mobile app isn’t keeping people from watching for long long periods of time. You’re welcome, Verizon and AT&T.

Another screen grab of stats below. (Click on it, because it’s too big to fit on our page.) Go to the NBC page for more stats orgy.


  1. Good stuff from Janko over at GigaOM: China online numbers dwarfed NBC’s. Guess they didn’t get the memo about how tape delay enhances audience enjoyment…



  1. […] monetizable for them.  Did that risk pay off?   Well, word is it did.  From a nice wrap-up in Mobile Sports Report derived from a stats-fest on NBC.com here: NBC “killed it,” as the kids would say, but just […]

  2. […] monetizable for them.  Did that risk pay off?   Well, word is it did.  From a nice wrap-up in Mobile Sports Report derived from a stats-fest on NBC.com here: NBC “killed it,” as the kids would say, but just […]

  3. […] ever. Or check out stats from this summer’s Olympics. And a lot of that viewing is going to move to mobile screens, like tablets. So why is TWC putting Wi-Fi hotspots on the beaches of Southern California? […]

Speak Your Mind