NBC Looks to Early Olympic Success to Hedge Gigantic Financial Losses

NBC's Matt Lauer carrying the Olympic TorchThe ratings for NBC's first few days of Olympics coverage have been very high. How high? Well, the opening ceremonies crushed everything else on Friday night and, presumably because of the Olympics, the NBA All-Star game recorded its second-lowest overnight TV rating (4.6 to NBC's 14.3 rating) on Sunday night. ↵

↵John Ourand recently tweeted that Tuesday night's national rating of the Olympics nearly topped American Idol. ↵

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↵⇥Fast Nationals from 8-10pm ET: "American Idol" posts a 12.9 rating/24M viewers; Olys 11.8/20M viewers. Obviously, the Oly had an extra hour. ↵
↵If I'm not mistaken, the snowboarding and non-skating events were on against Idol. It will be very interesting to see what kind of number the women's figure skating can do next Tuesday night when put up against FOX's ratings monolith. ↵

↵So with the ratings likely exceeding the expectations of NBC executives over the first five days, Media Decoder has a report that NBC is trying to leverage that early success into ad revenue for unsold ad space later in the Games. What's most interesting, however, is that NBC Universal is going to Google for help. ↵

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↵⇥The company, part of General Electric, asked Google for results of searches that took place online on Friday night in the United States as the opening ceremony — with all its commercials — was broadcast by NBC. ↵⇥

↵⇥There were huge spikes on Google, according to the data, for searches for two movies once the spots for those films were shown on NBC. One was “Green Zone” and the other was “How to Train Your Dragon.” ↵⇥

↵⇥

↵⇥There was also a huge spike on Google, the data showed, for searches for Sun Life Financial once a commercial for that company ran during the broadcast. ↵⇥

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↵The report quotes NBC Universal's Alan Wurtzel who indicates that an event like the Olympics – much like the Super Bowl – can drive immense traffic to the internet for more information. NBC also released information from Nielsen IAG, a division of the Nielsen Company, indicating double-digit improvements for the performance of some spots during the Olympic coverage. ↵

↵Will any of this actually translate into higher revenue for the second week of the Olympics? Will that put a dent into NBC's $250,000,000 in losses? Probably not. But it's still a good sign that giant media corporations like NBC Universal realize there is money to be made on, and through, the Internet. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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