People are watching tape-delayed Olympics even when they know who won

All Things D | paidContent
The cognitive dissonance of the Olympics — our conflicting desires to know immediately who won vs. the desire to sit together at night and watch the competitions — doesn't seem to be hurting NBC. Not only are TV ratings well above the 2008 Olympics, but it turns out that people are watching the Games at night even when they know what happened.

Peter Kafka reports:

On Sunday, 43 percent of Americans said they had heard about some of the Games’ results over the Web before they saw them on TV. But NBC argues that this turns out to be just fine: 67 percent of people who knew about the results said they would watch, anyway — more than people who hadn’t heard about the Games.

On Saturday night, people who had watched livestreamed events that day were twice as likely to watch parts of the same events on the prime-time tape delay.

I can vouch for this. When I opened the NBC iPad app Wednesday night, eager to see something other than swimming or gymnastics, my wife insisted that we watch the replay of the women's gymnastics team winning the gold medal on Tuesday, even though we had watched it the night before. I consented, of course, but first I watched a riveting display of athleticism called "Bodies in Motion on the Beach."

PaidContent's Robert Andrews notes that 45 percent of all live streams are going to phones and tablets. Perhaps that's one reason that people are using their "best screen — their TV" to watch at night.

There is one looming challenge. Right now, most internet streams are to dedicated mobile devices and to the web. In another four years, internet video to living room TVs will be commonplace. Internet-connected TVs present an opportunity to super-serve audiences with copious live coverage – but broadcasters may be disallowed from streaming to “TV” in this way by their cable partners.

Related: Sappiness reaches record high for London Olympics during Wednesday's NBC coverage (Slate)

Earlier: NBC’s Olympics strategy driving viewers crazy, but they’re watching anywayIs #NBCFail about journalists or viewers? | Could Yahoo broadcast the 2014 Olympics?

  • Steve Myers

    Steve Myers was the managing editor of until August 2012, when he became the deputy managing editor and senior staff writer for The Lens, a nonprofit investigative news site in New Orleans.


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