We spend a lot of time separating the wheat from the chaff around here so you don’t have to and the latest broadband release from NBC requires just that. The network is mixing Nielsen stats for the week ending 8/10 and Hitwise stats through 8/18 with overall stats for the first 12 days of the Beijing Games, the former as part of a traffic table tennis match with Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO). Let’s take the overall data first:
— NBCOlympics.com’s internal Omniture stats show nearly 42 million unique users in the first 12 days. They viewed 912 million pages and initiated more than 56 million video streams. (Sorry, nobody really knows how many were watched, just how many are initiated and shown.) The network says it’s averaging nearly 6.5 million visitors a day. That shouldn’t be confused with unique visits, which are averaging about 3.5 million a day. Lots more after the jump…
— Those 56-plus million video streams were delivered to nearly 10 million users. Flip that around a bit: roughly one in four unique visitors starts a video stream. NBC is still heavily into comparisons with Torino and Athens, but the vastly disparate offerings and that fact that those numbers were surpassed within days makes it increasingly meaningless. It’s also going to make life very tough for NBC in two years when the comps likely won’t work in its favor.
— The mobile WAP and wireless VOD have had nearly 6 million visits generating more than 25 million page views. Mobile VOD users average 2.5 clips apiece.
— Users average more than 13 minutes per visit and more than 27 minutes when video is involved.
NBC-Yahoo: The release is also NBC’s deferred response to Yahoo’s boast about beating the U.S. home of the Olympics in the early days of the 2008 Beijing games. The network refused our repeated requests to comment on Yahoo’s comScore-based comparison showing that the portal’s Olympics site outweighed the network’s by 1.3 million uniques during the the week ending Aug. 10; that included the first three days of the Olympics. (One unofficial argument we heard was that Yahoo’s Olympic site benefited from Yahoo’s status as a major portal, but that’s a tough one to make when your partner is Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) MSN.) Now it’s aiming right for Yahoo, claiming to out deliver the portal’s Olympics site in total users (8 percent), page views (389 percent), and average time spent (more than double). But this is far from lychees to lychees: NBC is offering Nielsen Online numbers to counter Yahoo for the first week, then switches to Hitwise to show that it outdraws Yahoo 2-1 among Olympics-related sites; Yahoo is a distant #2 by that accounting, which runs through Aug. 18. NBC skips comScore (NSDQ: SCOR) completely. Nielsen’s numbers for the first full week aren’t due until tomorrow.
NBC should be outdrawing Yahoo and everyone else in the U.S. when it comes to the online Olympics. Its web and WAP sites have received millions worth of promotions and the real shocker would be if it turned out to be the broadband equivalent of the Dream Team. But it left a door open with the decision to time-delay broadband video of major events. Without that, Yahoo probably wouldn’t have had a ping-pong ball to hit.
Pictured: Gold medalist Michael Phelps, from NBCOlympics.com
Update: But of course .. almost as soon as I hit send on this, Yahoo chimed in with another round of comScore Media Metrix numbers that shows it in the lead. (Yes, if we used surround sound, you’d hear the thump a head makes banging on a desk.) The portal has commissioned a report that produces weekly numbers for its Olympics’ site, NBCOlympics.com and the official Olympics site. Yahoo, which doesn’t subscribe to Nielsen, claims more than 19.4 million unique users for the week ending Aug. 17, compared with 14.2 million for NBCOlympics.com. Without offering an actual number, it says page views for its WAP sites with Olympic coverage are up 158 percent over July. The real mystery: there’s only a 250 percent increase in searches for “Michael Phelps” compared with Athens.