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NBC proud as a peacock over Olympics numbers

1:34 PM, August 13, 2008

Michael Phelps leaps out of the starting block in the Men's 200-meter Freestyle on Tuesday.

How important are the Beijing Games to NBC Universal?

NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel and his top researcher, Alan Wurtzel, just stayed up until well past 2 a.m. Thursday (Beijing time) to conduct a telephone conference call with stateside reporters.

Their message, to use an Olympics analogy, was that television remains as dominant in media coverage of the Beijing Games as Michael Phelps has been in the Water Cube.

"Ninety percent of the people are consuming the Olympics only on television," Wurtzel said during the call. "Ten percent tell us that they're consuming it both on television as well as using online. Only two-tenths of 1% are consuming entirely on the Internet."

Speaking of Phelps, what does his ongoing gold rush mean for NBC Universal's television ratings?

"We know that the ratings spike when Michael appears," Wurtzel said. "There's no question that Michael is an extraordinarily important driver."

But, just as other athletes can draft off Phelps' wake in the pool, Wurtzel talked of a similar assist for NBC after Phelps has toweled down: "People may come to see Michael Phelps, but they stay to see lots of other Olympic content, and that's terrific."

NBC Universal's main message during the conference call was that its multiplatform approach to covering Beijing (seven television networks, the NBCOlympics.com website, mobile phone downloads and video on demand) doesn't appear to be cannibalizing prime-time television ratings.

"The fact is that this Olympics is on pace to become the most-watched Olympics in history," Zenkel said. "And that includes [the 1996 Atlanta Games] which is the gold standard."

Some statistics offered by NBC Universal:

  • Consumers have used NBCOlympics.com to stream video of Monday's stunning U.S. 4x100 freestyle relay win 1.7 million times -- and 1.5 million of the online visitors who streamed it also sent links to someone else.
  • Traffic on the NBCOlympics.com website grew from 4.2 million (unique visitors) on Friday to 7.8 million on Monday.
  • The number of mobile phone downloads (Web pages and streaming video) grew from 210,333 on Friday to 476,062 on Monday.

-- Greg Johnson

Photo: Michael Phelps leaps off the starting block on his way to a new world record of 1:42.96 in the men's 200-meter freestyle at Beijing's National Aquatics Center on Tuesday. Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times


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I personally am boycotting the olympics (at least watching them...I do read online news and catch reports). But I'm not going to support China and their human rights atrocities if I can help it, and boycotting the olympics is my small way to make a statement that I don't support China or its lack of respect for humanity.

I'm especially annoyed at NBC because they don't show Michael Phelps until after 10 pm, and consequently, after I've turned them off. Also, I've seen too many shots of the Great Wall. Enough already!

I have missed some of Phelps performances because of the late time its shown here on the west coast. If NBC Universal wanted higher ratings, they would give us the live coverage like they do for the East Coast. Also, stop putting "live" on the screen when its not live.

the sailing venue looks awesome

NBC did a lousy job. I couldnt even figure out when a event was scheduled because it wasnt clear whether China time difference is ahead or behind us. Then it did a poor job of forgetting to tell you the schedule was Eastern Time Zone. So in order to watch you had to research yourself how the timezones work, then remember to factor in your specific timezone. Easy programing that should have been in Microsofts plug-in for you. Further, when I went to watch one sport there were mutiple links claiming the event was "live", yet when you clicked on it, it would send you to another screen, yet no link to the "live" action. Also, there were serious screw ups in Bejing. For example I was watching the main events at some venues and there was no one in the seats, yet you could hear screams from huge crowds from some other event taking place, yet that event wasnt "live". The only thing I cant think is either the TV crew screwed up or the Chinese people were more interested in some lame side event we could overhear. I cant wait to rip this stupid Microsoft Siliverthing out of my computer.

cry me a river Tim.

According to NBC, the only events in the Olympics are swiming, gymnastics and volleyball. And what is it with Misty-May and her cohort? Do we really need to see all their matches? I can understand Michael Phelps (but not all the repeats - the one it would have been great to see again - even the least leg - they only show the last seconds). How about some of the more unusual though exciting sports? How about a story of an Olympian that has no chance of winning but has a great story and work ethic? How about some world champions in areas where USA is not competitive? Just even short minutes. What they are giving us is so boring - this is the only stuff they think we can stomach? I guess I need to find some free stuff on the net. I'm afraid if I start looking, I'll discover things I would rather discover live. Oh well. They're losing me but track and field is next week, damnit.

If you look at the TV coverage, you will find that they have the SAME SPORTS every night: Gymnastics, Swimming, Volleyball, Diving. Most likely due to research that shows these sports attract the most viewers, but it becomes a bit tedious when they are shown every night. However interjecting with some other sports, like Tennis, Tae Kwon Do, Boxing, etc?

I can't seem to stop watching NBC...I am addicted to watching the Olympics. I think they are doing a fine job and to know I am watching some of the events live instead of reading it over the internet before it happens is awesome. Also, showcasing the beautiful host country is an added plus. The history is so rich and extensive. I just wish I could have been there personally to experience it all, except I wouldn't have been able to see all the wonderful sports events i am watching at this very moment.

After the 4x100 on nbc why the heck did they show Michal Phelps screaming when it was Lesak who won the dam race for the team. Phelps actually raced horribly compared to Lesak who WON the race. also were can I find a full vedio of the race

I don't know what you guys are talking about. NBC has three different channels, that show different sports ALL day. If you choose to only tune in at 8 oclock when they only show the live events, that's your fault. I've personally seen Boxing, Shooting, Archery,Soccer,Cycling,Indoor Volleyball, Basketball, Weightlifting, Tennis,and Fencing in addition to all of the other sports mentioned (swimming,beach volleyball, gymnastics, etc) Besides the other sports start later on in the week...duh!.

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