Industry Insights

Olympics Performance in the Social Realm

With NBC Investing over $12 Billion in the rights to broadcast the Olympics, content marketing strategies came into play in a big way. Earlier this year my household decided to cut the cable for TV but we kept the internet since nowadays you can find anything and everything on the internet. When the PyeongChang Winter Olympics arrived I was a little bummed since I’m so used to flicking on the tv and voila it’s on. So this year we watched via online streaming and sure enough, it did not disappoint, captivating the world once again.

I decided to take a look at the numbers to see how PyeongChang Winter Olympics performed in the social media realm. Conventional viewership was down. Viewership during the current year's Olympic Winter Recreations saw a downturn from Sochi in 2014. NBC reports a 15% drop in viewership over their NBC and NBC Games systems among watchers ages 18-49, a prized statistic for advertisers. The opening ceremony also endured a downturn of 8.6% compared to viewership four years prior.
NBC reported 20 million watchers daily across their networks. Despite the fact that it sounds great, this year is really one of the least watched Olympic Winter games since 1976. Even with the decline in viewership, you would think that NBC’s pocket book would have taken a hit! Not so, they actually had their national ad sales go from $800 million to $920 million, since the Sochi Olympics.

Tuning in on mobile, viewership on streaming saw an increase, with almost 13.9 million watchers comparing with 6.3 million watchers in 2014. This move is demonstrative of the ever-forward push towards mobile, as more youthful, more technically knowledgeable groups of onlookers start to rule the market. Research projected that around 39% of Winter Olympic fans were twenty to thirty year olds (the Millennials), who are commonly more active on web-based social networking media and mobile than the older generation. Research also show that an estimated 38% of viewers, watched it on their tablets and mobile devices, showing an increase of more than 46% since 2014 for mobile.

Winning with social media, on the web, brands transformed constant minutes into advertising wins. Competitors immediately transformed into resources. With each win came an influx of new devotees, changing competitors to influencers, if just for a minute. For instance, snowboarder Chloe Kim stood out as a truly newsworthy influencer for her indifferent tweets before hitting the half pipe and brands rushed to get in on the action.

Forbes reported that competitors (and the brands that support them) likewise won huge through engagement. Toyota saw a 574% expansion in social engagement after Kim, who they support, brought home the gold. Target, who supports snowboarder Shaun White, saw a 824% expansion engagement after his win on the inclines. The numbers on engagements from the major social media sites have yet to be released, so it will be interesting to see how it compared to the Sochi Olympics.  But here are some stats from the last year's Rio Summer Olympics: Twitter announced 187 million tweets with the hashtag #Rio2016, with upwards of 75 billion impressions. Facebook and Instagram announced 1.5 billion and 916 million collaborations, individually.

Early numbers from Sprinklr, showed an excess of 7.3 million individuals were discussing the 2018 Olympics, with upwards of 89,500 notices of Olympic supporters. Top organizations included NBC (the official broadcaster) trailed by Coca-Cola, Intel, Nike, and P&G.

Now that the 2018 Winter Olympics are over, the final ratings made the Pyeongchang games the least-watched Olympics on record. NBC Reported that the Pyeongchang 19.8 million viewers per night across NBC, NBC Sports Network, and NBC Sports Digital’s streaming platforms. These winter games were the first winter games that primetime coverage was available across broadcast, cable and streaming simultaneously, and still it was approximately 7% down from the Sochi Olympics which did not air on streaming or the NBC sports network.

“In today’s media environment, to average approximately 20 million viewers over 18 nights – which is essentially the number of hours for a full season of three primetime shows – is a tremendous accomplishment,” said Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBC Broadcasting and Sports. “When compared to the competition, we were more dominant than any Winter Games ever.”

Finally, NBC Sports Digital live streamed 1.85 billion minutes of coverage from Pyeongchang, with 2.17 billion being streamed total.  That final total is more than triple than what was streamed in 2014. It will be interesting to see how the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games will fair. The International Paralympics Committee (IPC) believe that the social media audience and international TV will break all previous records.


Natalie Evans

Natalie Evans

Natalie Evans has over 16-years in the tech industry and currently works as the event coordinator and tech reporter for CMS-Connected, keeping up-to-date on what's happening in and around the Content Management industry.

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