NBC-Olympics: Broadband, Mobile Use Growing; TV VOD Barely A Blip


With the first week of the 2008 Olympics in the history books, we’re getting a better picture of NBCOlympics.com.

Some of the stats through August 15:

— 31.2 million video streams delivered totaling 4.7 million hours.

— 31 million unique visitors; 6.5 million daily uniques.

— Users spend approximately 13 minutes per visit.

— The site is still showing sequential growth, with Aug. 15 up 21 percent in page views, 8 percent in uniques and 57 percent in video streams over Aug. 14. That very well could shift, though, with swimming aka The Michael Phelps Story coming to an end Saturday night.

— Meanwhile, eight days in, NBC says it has reached 185 million viewers, more than the total for Torino, Nagano or Albertville.

NBC is emphasizing total exposure through total audience measurement. The TAMi numbers show an average TV audience of 90-plus percent. We have no way of knowing what the video numbers or other traffic would be for NBCOlympics.com if the network had decided to go live in real-time with Opening Ceremonies, the 100m and numerous events caught in its temporal twilight zone. Personally, I lean towards stronger broadband results and virtually the same percent prime-time audience — growing the pie, not taking bites out of it. Then again, the NBC-provided chart after the jump shows TV losing a bit of its edge as online and mobile hit peaks: 91 percent to 8.4 and 0.6 percent respectively.

I asked NBC about its decision not to go for big broadband numbers. The official response: “Our multiplatform strategy drives viewers to share in the Olympic experience on network television in record numbers. As a result of this unprecedented digital effort, consumers have a destination to watch thousands of hours of video and relive the great moments of these Olympics.” In other words, when it comes to primetime events, think of NBCOlympics.com as a time-delayed DVR.

TV VOD barely a blip: Meanwhile, TV VOD is barely a blip on any radar screen — far behind even mobile VOD. Why? I spent an hour last night going through the options on Charter (NSDQ: CHTR) through its Moxi HD box. It should be the best VOD experience; instead it could medal in confusing. It’s also loaded with snippets and highlights with very few options for full “encores.” I never did find the women’s gymnastics all-around performances I fell asleep during Thursday night; the online versions are findable but why should you have to go that route when you have full-screen HD VOD? I can only see Charter — how is your Olympic TV VOD experience?



Staci D. Kramer

HmmConvenient — VOD has one very important advantage over online, particularly as NBC and MSN have opted to do it: full-screen. You cannot watch online video in the Silverlight player full screen, which means the PC I have hardwired into my TV is as limited as my PC monitor. (The only difference is the size of the video player window expands with the size of the screen.) VOD on TV allows those of us with HD flat panels the chance to take full advantage of the screen.


Trust me, the time delay problem is a thousand times worse on the west coast. We're getting some stuff 15 hours delayed from the live coverage–insane. I understand NBC's need to monetize, truly I do, but it's driving some unanticipated behavioral consequences.

I live in Seattle, where (thankfully) Comcast has put the CBC on its basic channel lineup. So on Saturday (the day of Phelps' 8th race), I watched the live coverage on CBC at the same time the NBC network coverage carried MINUTE NUMBER 40 of a 2-1/2 hour women's marathon. No kidding. 3 hours later, I tuned in to the NBC coverage to watch their analysis and interviews of the Phelps race.

There has GOT to be a model where NBC can make enough money AND hard-core fans can get live coverage while the more casual viewer can wait until prime time to see the events and pageantry. Here's to hoping they figure it out before London in 2012 (where prime time on the US East Coast will be midnight to 3am locally). Can't wait.


VOD has always been a curiosity to me… while this channel mirrors traditional broadcast it offers few advantages to online streaming. Consider that most users can fast forward through VOD content; it is often hard to find on most cable networks, and to boot it does not allow for ad targeting.

If a user finds their way to VOD content it seems to be an excellent way to upsell other platforms where content can be consumed (e.g., mobile, web, etc) where ad targeting and other behavior can be mined.



I gave VOD a look last week, and was also disappointed. I wonder how much of that is due to the fact that VOD systems haven't really been built for frequent daily updates.

It seems that the majority of content on my Time Warner VOD system here is updated once a week. Maybe cable providers lack good mechanisms for getting tons of recently-live video fed into the system in a timely fashion? Of course, the recent Cablevision ruling on MSO-based DVRs could change all that.

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