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May 25, 2016

2016 Rio Olympics: TV vs. Digital

How will the time zone of the 2016 Olympics impact viewing habits?

If you have not heard already, the summer Olympics will be held this year in Rio de Janeiro. Media planners and buyers throughout the world are currently in discussions to purchase packages to reach the vast audience of Olympic viewers. In the United States, NBC will have full coverage of the Olympics and thus all planners and buyers will be negotiating customized packages through them.

The main trend of these packages is to increase digital due to the success of streaming and social impact in both 2014’s Sochi Winter games and 2012’s London Summer games. While it is understood to build on the previous Olympics successes, should planners and buyers believe that the streaming platforms will be as pertinent as they were previously? The main reason not to believe is simple: the last two Olympics were located in other time-zones, in which events were completed and then aired in primetime.

As members of a workforce who sit in front of their computer for 8-hours a day, it is quite normal to be curious and want check out the score of the basketball game or look up which number gold medal Michael Phelps just won. The difference is that this year is that if you want to look up a score, time, or distance thrown you would merely be discovering preliminary times and not the finals as you would in the last Olympics.

Maybe you don’t concern yourself with actually searching for results, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be following the Olympics through Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. All three platforms had major impacts in 2014’s Sochi games. Athletes, Journalists and attendees provide real-time information throughout Sochi games that Americans received throughout the day and thus continued to drive web traffic and live streaming. This year though, if you receive a tweet saying Gabby Douglas is about to achieve back-to-back individual all-around Gold Medals are you going to want to read more information, attempt to stream via a mobile, desktop, or tablet, or are you just going to turn on NBC and watch for yourself? The latter appears to be the most likely as you are more likely to be at home while the event is occurring in prime time, rather than at work or running errands.

In the 2014 Sochi games NBC Sports broke site records as over 600,000 viewers live-streamed the USA-Canada hockey game. The key to that above record is the word “live”, as live sports have continued to drive people to broadcast as opposed to streaming. With the prime live-streaming assets missing from this Olympics, the 600,000 viewers are likely to be drastically cut.

In conclusion, this upcoming 2016 Rio games will be the most TV watched Olympics ever. The social platforms and digital support will drive viewers to flip on the TV rather than just follow the story online. This is the first time since 1996 that the Summer Olympics will be aired live in primetime and everyone seems to be looking forward to it.