Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Even before the Games got underway people were questioning how accurate NBC's ratings reporting was going to be and furthermore, how exactly they were going to do it. There's not question that NBC has recorded rather large ratings on the strength of an interesting Opening Ceremony and Michaels, but apparently the numbers they are giving the public are in question. Via the Washington Post....
About 107 million people in the United States sampled the first Sunday of the Beijing Games across all of NBC Universal's broadcast and cable networks, making it the most sampled first Sunday in Summer Olympics history.I know that's confusing (to me too), so I asked a friend in the "business" to break it down. Here's what I gathered.....Reach figures really mean nothing to advertisers. They'd rather know the average audience because that calculation, once broken down, can show you just about how many people have been exposed to your ad.
For the record books, the NBC broadcast network averaged 30.4 million viewers Sunday in prime time -- actually from 7 to 11:45 p.m. That's the best prime-time average audience through the first Sunday for a non-U.S. Summer Games since Montreal in 1976, when the words "audience fragmentation" had not yet become the most feared phrase in the executive suites of the networks.
Time for the NBC Fine Print: The 107 million viewers who sampled the Games on one of the NBC Universal networks -- NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, Oxygen (yes, really), etc. -- and the 81 million who checked out the NBC broadcast network in prime time Sunday are "reach" figures and measure anyone who watched as little as six minutes of a telecast. These are of great bragging interest to the network presenting big-ticket programs such as the Olympics; they're also of enormous interest to advertisers. That's because conventional wisdom says anyone who watches six minutes of a telecast probably was subjected to an ad break.
The 30.4 million who watched NBC represents the "average audience," meaning the average number of viewers watching each minute. That's the standard typically used to discuss programming on television.
It seems odd to me that a network would continue to be shady with figures even though they're close to setting all sorts of records. If you add to the television coverage, the success of the live online content , the whole package has been an overwhelming success. It'll be interesting to take a look again when all the numbers are in.
Edwards's Mea Culpa Merits a Mere Blip Against NBC and Beijing (Washington Post)