Did you see the New York Times’ positive coverage about web viewership of the Olympics "soaring"? Well, we beg to differ.
NBC was going for the gold (forgive us) with all their online coverage of the Olympics. They launched a brand new cross-browser, cross-platform, and cross-device plug-in website to cover the Olympics and unleashed more than 2,000 hours of online video. But they didn’t even qualify to compete, according to recent numbers. Techcrunch tells us that Yahoo Sports beat NBCOlympics.com with an average of 4.7 million visitors a day versus 4.3 million, according to Nieisen Online. Yahoo didn’t even have video. Worse, NBC’s Olympics video ad revenues came to only $5.75 million. CBS made $23 million from video ads when it streamed the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament live online.
So, what happened? NBC is scared of the internet. They restricted online coverage, especially with live streams, worried that they’d lose TV viewers to laptops. But those fears were unfounded. In fact, the Beijing Olympics smashed records and became the most-watched U.S. television event of all time, according to Reuters, even with entire families by-passing commercials with their DVRs. And lots of people watched the Olympics at work, during these last slow days of summer.
NBC missed a big opportunity here to expand its audience by streaming events it gave short shrift on TV (i.e., anything that wasn’t women’s beach volleyball or sports where the U.S. didn’t have a good chance of earning a medal).