Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics – What an Olympics for NBC

The Beijing Games end Sunday but for NBC the verdict is already in – gold medal coverage, gold medal ratings and gold medal advertising sales. The numbers are overwhelming.

Tuesday NBC reported that through 11 days, NBC Universal's Olympic coverage has reached 200 million people and more than 83 percent of all U.S. television homes. It has also delivered the most dominant margins of victory for any network in any primetime week in the history of Nielsen's People Meter sample, which dates back 21 years to September 1987.

Through just 11 days, the networks of NBC Universal already have reached 200 million total viewers, 12 million more than the first 11 days for Athens (188 million) and 4 million more than the Atlanta Games (196 million), which was the most-viewed television event in U.S. history. The 11-day total for these Games makes it the fourth most-viewed television event in U.S. history. Additionally, 94 million of the of the nation's 112.8 million television homes (83 percent) have tuned into the Olympics.

It’s not a matter of if, but when the Beijing Games will be recognized as the most watched Olympics in American history. Gander at these numbers as to why it’s a certainty Beijing has been a ratings winner for NBC:

1. 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics, 209 million (17 days)
2. 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics, 204 million (16 days)
3. 2004 Athens Summer Olympics, 203 million (17 days)
4. *2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, 200 million (*through 11 days)
5. 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics, 194 million (17 days)

The key to remember is the statistics are based on the Beijing Games through the first 11 days with six days of numbers to be added.

Then factor in these numbers: For the week of August 11-17, NBC generated more than four times the household rating of the No. 2 network, and more than five times the total viewers of the No. 2 network to claim the biggest week-long wins in those categories for any network since Nielsen initiated its current People Meter sample in September 1987.

According to data provided by Nielsen Media Research, NBC averaged 28.7 million viewers overall and a 16.8 rating/28 share in households for the primetime week of August 11-17. Those averages were strong enough to deliver record margins over the week's No. 2 finishes of 463 percent in total viewers (28.7 million vs. CBS's 5.1 million) and 394 percent in households (16.8 vs. CBS's 3.4).

NBC also beat the combined ABC-CBS-Fox results in these categories and again by margins that are the biggest for any network in People Meter history, 143 percent in total viewers (28.7 million vs. 11.8 million) and 113 percent in household rating (16.8 vs. 7.9).

The Beijing Olympic 11-day average primetime viewership is 29.6 million, 13 percent ahead of Athens in 2004 (26.2 million). NBC's average of a 17.2 rating, 30 share in households is the best through the second Monday for a Summer Olympics outside the U.S. since Barcelona in 1992 (18.4/35) and is a nine percent jump from Athens in 2004 (15.8/28).

Monday night garnered 67 million total viewers in primetime and 26.4 million average viewers, a two percent gain from the comparable night in Athens (25.9 million). The night earned a 15.8 rating/26 share, which is off just four percent from Athens' comparable night (16.4/27) which featured the USA's Jeremy Wariner's gold medal in the 400m.

TAMI FOR SUNDAY: The TAMI (Total Audience Measurement Index) measures the 3600 hours of programming during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, including Television (P2+ reach), Online (Unique Users), Mobile (WAP unique users and Mobile VOD unique users) and TV VOD (unique users). Below is the TAMI measurement through Sunday, Aug. 17:

Sunday, Aug. 17: 107.2 million
TV: 101.9 million, ONLINE: 4.8 million, MOBILE: 506k, TV VOD: n/a
Saturday, Aug. 16: 107.9 million
Friday, Aug. 15: 95.0 million
Thursday, Aug. 14: 101.4 million
Wednesday, Aug. 13: 100.9 million
Tuesday, Aug. 12: 105.0 million
Monday, Aug. 11: 103.1 million
Sunday, Aug. 10: 113.0 million
Saturday, Aug. 9: 97.8 million
Friday, Aug. 8: 74.6 million

And what a week it’s been for NBC. Now its fair to suggest Fox, CBS and ABC are running reruns (it may be made more sense to feature a test pattern) but numbers don’t lie – the first week of the Beijing Games made it a week to remember and then some for NBC and their parent company General Electric.

BC's coverage of the Summer Olympic Games from Beijing has delivered the most dominant margins of victory for any network in any primetime week in the history of Nielsen's People Meter sample. For the week of August 11-17, NBC generated more than four times the household rating of the #2 network, more than five times the #2 total-viewer result and more than seven times the #2 adult 18-49 rating, to claim the biggest weeklong wins in those categories for any network since Nielsen initiated its current People Meter sample in September 1987. (Note that weekly averages have not been finalized by Nielsen and some minor adjustments may be made in official results for the week.)

According to in-home viewing figures from Nielsen Media Research, NBC averaged a 9.6 rating in adults 18-49, 28.7 million viewers overall and a 16.8 rating/28 share in households for the primetime week of August 11-17. Those averages were strong enough to deliver record margins over the week's #2 finishes of 638 percent in 18-49 (9.6 vs. 1.3 for second-place CBS), 463 percent in total viewers (28.7 million vs. CBS's 5.1 million) and 394 percent in households (16.8 vs. CBS's 3.4).

NBC also beat the combined ABC-CBS-Fox results in those three categories and again by margins that are the biggest for any network in People Meter history – 167 percent in 18-49 (9.6 vs. 3.6), 143 percent in total viewers (28.7 million vs. 11.8 million) and 113 percent in household rating (16.8 vs. 7.9).

NBC's 9.6 rating in 18-49 is the highest for any network outside the traditional television season since the week of September 18-24, 2000 (10.0 for NBC during the Sydney Summer Games). In both total viewers and households, NBC scored the top weeklong results for any network outside the traditional season since the week of July 29-August 4, 1996 (32.1 million viewers overall and a 21.4 household rating for NBC during the Atlanta Summer Games).

NBC's seven nights of primetime Olympics coverage claimed the top seven spots in the weekly program rankings in every key ratings category. Tuesday's telecast was the #1 program of the week in all key categories, including adults 18-49 (12.4/34) and total viewers (34.0 million).

NBC also soared on Saturday, when Michael Phelps claimed his record eighth gold medal of these Olympics and NBC delivered its biggest average audience for a Saturday program since a "Golden Girls" episode in February 1990.

Through 10 days, the networks of NBC Universal have reached 196 million total viewers who've watched at least a part of the Olympics coverage, 11 million more than the first 10 days for Athens (185 million) and 3 million more than the Atlanta Games (193 million), which was the most viewed television event in U.S. history. The 10-day total for these Games now surpasses the final overall viewership totals for the Barcelona Games (192 million) in 1992 and the Seoul Games (194 million) in 1988.

The Beijing Olympic 10-day average primetime viewership is 29.8 million, 14 percent ahead of Athens in 2004 (26.2 million). NBC's average of a 17.2 rating, 30 share in households is the best through the second Sunday for a Summer Olympics outside the U.S. since Barcelona in 1992 (18.6/35) and is a 9 percent jump from Athens in 2004 (15.8/28).

Primetime averages for the week of August 11-17 in adults 18-49 were NBC (a 9.6 rating), CBS (1.3), Fox (1.2), ABC (1.1) and CW (0.6). In overall total viewers the weekly averages were NBC (28.7 million), CBS (5.1 million), ABC (3.4 million), Fox (3.2 million) and CW (1.5 million).

Through 47 weeks of the 2007-08 season, Fox leads in primetime's key demographic of adults 18-49, with NBC now ranking #2 ahead of ABC and CBS. NBC is matching its year-ago rating in 18-49 while ABC is down 10 percent, CBS is down 19 percent and Fox is up 3 percent. Season-to-date averages in adults 18-49 for the period September 24, 2007 through August 17, 2008 are Fox (3.7), NBC (2.8), ABC (2.7), CBS (2.6) and CW (0.9).

NBC is the only major network that has not seen its audience get significantly older this season versus last and it is now the "second-youngest" of the major broadcast networks. Through the first 47 weeks of the 2007-08 season, NBC is running within 0.4 years of its median age from the prior season (48.8 years this season vs. 48.4 years last season). In this same comparison, ABC's median age has increased by 1.7 years (to 48.8 from 47.1 years old at this point last season), CBS's median age has increased by 0.8 years (to 53.3 from 52.5) and Fox's median age has increased by 1.4 years (to 43.9 from 42.5).

And it what shouldn’t come as a surprise where there are ratings numbers – advertising sales tend to follow: NBC Universal has sold $25 million in Olympic advertising since the start of the 2008 Beijing Games including an additional $15 million in the last seven days. This is on top of the more than $1 billion the network sold leading into the Games. The announcement was made today by Seth Winter, SVP Sales & Marketing, NBC Sports & Olympics.

"The Beijing Olympics have truly captivated the American public, generating record performance across all of our platforms," said Winter. "In addition to the ratings success, the Games have also provided a valuable environment for our advertisers to deliver their messages. The feedback from our partners has been tremendous and we're already actively engaged in discussion with many of them for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and London in 2012."

Winter cited continued interest in the movie, retail, packaged goods and pharmaceutical categories, among others. More than 100 companies have advertised during NBC's Olympic coverage.

NBC also today released the results of a Nielsen IAG study on the value of Olympic advertising. Among the findings are:

Traditional ads within the Olympics produced greater ad performance than ads airing outside of the Olympics

Brand recall in the Olympics reached levels that were up to 130 percent higher than those realized by other primetime programs

Message recall in the Olympics attained levels that were more than twice as high as scores in other primetime programs (Message Recall in the Olympics is 50% higher than the Academy Awards)

Ad likeability scores in the Olympics achieved levels that were nearly three times as high as performance in other primetime programs

Olympic-themed creative generated stronger brand message and likeability messaging than non-themed ads

"We've always known that the scale and unique qualities of the Olympics make it a singular sales and marketing platform," said Alan Wurtzel, President, Research, NBC Universal. "Now that we have been able to measure how effective advertising is on the Olympic platform, we are sharing the information with our marketing partners, and using it to optimize our sales efforts in Beijing and looking forward for Vancouver and London."

Here’s the most important statement – the bottom line. NBC paid $844 million for the rights to the Beijing Games. Additionally they spent an estimated $100 on production costs associated with their broadcasts cost. They’ve generated an estimated $1.035 billion in ad sales. Do the simple math. NBC dominates ratings, produces results for their Beijing Games advertisers makes money doing so – that’s Olympic gold

For Sports Business News this is Howard Bloom

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