NBC’s mixed Olympic report card

The [great digital ad race](/webcontent/article.php/3764261/The+Olympics+A+Digital+Frenzy+Like+No+Other.htm) is an Olympic event with no medal ceremony. But with the numbers trickling in, it’s worth a moment to look at this year’s games, which are widely seen as the first truly digital Olympics.

In terms of revenue, NBC, which has taken a lot of grief for how it handled the video streaming (no live events that the network was televising), acquitted itself only passably, according to eMarketer. The research group estimated that NBC will have raked in $5.75 million in video ad spending on the NBCOlympics.com site by the time it’s all said and done. While that’s not a bad haul for two weeks worth of work, eMarketer points out that that figure represents only a shade over 1 percent of its projection for online video spending this year.

Analyst David Hallerman suggested that one barrier was NBC’s insistence that users download Microsoft’s Silverlight to view the content. A mandatory install is always going to result in a certain degree of drop-off.

But also, NBC’s decision to limit the availability of the programming available online, for fear of cannibalizing its TV audience, was almost certainly a drag on the site’s ad revenue.

Consider the most recent figures from Nielsen: NBC’s Olympics page saw an average of 4.27 million daily unique visitors. Not bad, but also not the best. Yahoo, which had no video but devoted a fair chunk of home-page real estate to the Olympics, had average daily traffic of 4.73 million visitors.

Hallerman’s conclusion: “One might just award NBC’s online presentation of the summer Olympics a bronze medal then. As a signifier for future online events, the games set a high bar for the competition — establishing that major sports events, tournaments and professional leagues ought to offer an abundance of video content online, not just snippets.”

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