NBC U spent a bundle on the Olympics–$894 million for 17 days of the Beijing games alone. And that doesn’t count the more than $125 million they’ll spend producing the games.
Time to prove that they spent their money wisely — by telling advertisers not just about TV watchers, but online and mobile audiences too. Ratings on broadcast and cable TV are easy and available overnight, but online metrics in particular are slow and unreliable. That’s why NBC U is using its own Omniture data and data from set-top measurement firm Rentrak to give a daily picture of who is watching the Olympics.
It’s a smart move: NBC is spending millions to make the Olympics (partially) available online and on-demand, but will get no credit for doing so without a daily portrait of who is watching and where.
NBC research chief Alan Wurtzel claims this isn’t about inflating the Olympics’ TV ratings. Because the games will be spread out across NBC, Telemundo, USA, MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo and Oxygen, ratings will likely be down from 2004 on any one given network.
The new numbers, which NBC U is calling a “total audience measurement index,” also fits with its new strategy of releasing online viewing metrics for TV shows like “Heroes” and “The Office.” Those are being released on a monthly basis–which is as fast as Nielsen Online can get them out–but ultimately, the network should be able to have overnight ratings for online and on-demand, as well as broadcast and cable TV.
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