Talking to Alan Wurtzel, President of Research, NBC Universal from his Vancouver based “The Billion Dollar Lab Initiative” is very interesting. Wurtzel and his crew of world class numbers crunchers are tracking our Olympic viewing habits the same way The Elias Sports Bureau breaks down baseball stats.
JW: Are the Olympics still a traditionally family oriented event?
Wurtzel: ”Yes and the numbers show that more than half of all Americans have watched the Vancouver Olympics on the networks of NBC (171 million). That’s 22% more viewers than watched the entire 2009 season of American Idol (140 million for 39 separate telecasts). Plus our research shows that 77% of parents say they use the Olympics to teach their kids values. 76% agree “Olympics give me an opportunity to spend quality time together with my family.”
JW: NBC has invested big time in the development of new media with both NBCOlympics.com as well as NBC Mobile for Smart Phones. Are you seeing an increase there?
Wurtzel: ”We are seeing a huge growth there. People are watching more events via broadband on the website and there is a “Water Cooler” effect. Many people are using the Internet to view things they didn’t see on television. 93% of people who watched Apolo Ohno’s silver speed skating video online did NOT see it on television. The Internet also helps consumers “relive the moment” of events they did watch on television. 44% of online consumers who watched Johnny Weir skate his short performance had already seen it first on television. Beside the tradition NBC Mobile we also launched a mobile application for Smart Phones we have had 1.1 million users of the new app.”
JW: So people are watch the Olympics both on their laptops as well as their TV at the same time?
Wurtzel: ”Yes many people are accessing the Olympic Games on television, on their PCs, laptops and mobile devices all at once. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Simultaneous synchronous use across platforms complements, not cannibalizes, each other. “
Face Book and Twitter have also been huge during the Vancouver games. I strongly urge you to go to NBCOlympics.com while you are watching the games on TV. You will see a constant ongoing live Twitter feed that allows you to become an online commentator sharing your thoughts with the other viewers.
Also there are many cool things on the site including a DVR player that allows you to move forward or to replay the action you want to see. There are hours of video to view at your leisure. So these truly are the On Demand Olympics.
It should be noted that Wurtzel has the help of Arbitron, Omniture and Comscore online measurement and a number of other research companies that comprise the “Billion Dollar Lab Initiative.”