NBC Olympics Online: Big Viewership, Not Much Ad Sales
What's the difference between traditional TV and Internet video these days? In one example -- NBC's Beijing Olympics -- it comes to $1,019,600,000.
NBC says it took in $1.025 billion in advertising sales, with virtually that entire amount coming from traditional TV venues, such as network TV. What about the Internet? According to one researcher, NBC collected a massive $5.4 million! Considering the event has been touted as the most-viewed TV event in human history, this would make NBC's Internet efforts around 0.5% of its total advertising revenue take.
By comparison, the lesser-viewed NCAA college basketball tournament -- the so-called March Madness event, also live on the Internet -- grabbed $23 million in online ad revenue.
Who is to blame? Perhaps those stodgy traditional TV advertisers for possibly not expecting much from the big Olympic TV event, let alone the event on the Internet. Though major Olympic deals were struck months, if not years ago, maybe marketers only wanted tried and true media.
The Internet revenue numbers don't come from NBC, but online advertising researcher eMarketer. From personal observation, it seemed there was, indeed, little in the way of advertising during live online events.
For example, some six-and- a-half hours of the live men's road bike race included just a handful of 15-second commercial spots, all of which were from NBC's parent, General Electric, for its "eco-imagination" campaign. There was no audio commentary for the six-hour unedited live bike race (There was on-screen pop-up commentary, however). You could get a 44-minute TV version with audio commentary, again with ads only from GE.
For the viewer, this was incredible -- pure, unfiltered sports competition. Surely women's weightlifting fanatics may have felt the same way. All that said, you can see why Internet video CPMs are three to four times that of traditional TV -- as well as why the overall cost for one of those spots, might only amount to $25.99.
The Internet Olympic experience isn't the NBC TV Olympics experience. At least marketers saw it that way. Too bad -- considering there was record Web video viewership for these Olympics.
Did someone miss the boat -- or was the boat the wrong ship for boarding?