How Many People Are Watching the Olympics? NBC Attempts a Tricky Head Count.

“Advertisers today recognize in which a viewer can be a viewer,” said Dan Lovinger, NBC Sports’s executive in charge of sales. He eschewed the idea in which there can be a fundamental difference between television along with digital viewers. “What we are doing today can be adding This particular all together along with treating a viewer as a viewer.”

For decades Nielsen produced easy-to-compare measurements of how many people watched a program along with what percentage of American households they represented. nevertheless an exploding array of technologies — first TiVo along with various other digital video recorders, along with today streaming players like Rokus, computers along with phones — has fragmented viewing across dozens of different platforms, a large factor inside broad decline in television ratings.

With billions of dollars in commercial time at stake, content providers, along with especially media companies in which own expensive sports rights, have raced to keep up. Scripted programming can have a long shelf life along with be sold over time in a variety of ways, nevertheless the vast majority of sports can be watched live, which means broadcasters need to capture every viewer possible along with figure out how to count them.

The catch can be in which they aren’t yet in agreement on how to do in which.

“In order for the industry to move forward, we have to coalesce around 1-source approach,” said Cary Meyers, head of ESPN’s consumer-research division, where the network can be working directly with Nielsen on a live audience metric in which could be a different type of TAD.

NBC appears unwilling to take any chances with the Winter Games, particularly after facing an unexpected decline in traditional, or “linear,” TV ratings in Rio, when This particular had to offer free commercial time to advertisers to meet its ratings guarantees. Streaming surged during in which period.

Linda Yaccarino, NBC Universal’s head of ad sales, has been a vocal critic of Nielsen in recent years, saying in which the measurement company’s methods don’t accurately count all the completely new ways people are watching its shows. Network complaints have grown louder as the legacy media companies battle falling ratings along with completely new competition for ad dollars via the likes of Facebook along with Google’s YouTube.

Nielsen ratings for traditional television are based upon averaging every minute of viewing by a representative panel. NBC combines Nielsen’s measures for its television channels with Adobe’s measurement of streaming data to form TAD.

Advertising technology can be changing constantly, along with Nielsen has to carefully decide when a metric can be ready for mainstream adoption. Megan Clarken, Nielsen’s president of United States media (along with at one time an Olympic-qualifying long jumper), said in which a decade ago the company faced pressure to jump headlong into mobile measurement. If This particular had done so, Nielsen could have been pushing ultimately useless metrics to measure viewing on BlackBerry phones.

“What we do as a company can be we watch for in which activity, in which evolution,” she said, “along with what we aim to do can be not be ahead of This particular, nevertheless be with This particular, along with certainly not behind This particular.”

While analysts said This particular was smart of NBC to push its own metric for the Games, This particular can be also the right move for Nielsen to proceed carefully as This particular develops an industry standard for tracking viewers across a “dizzying array” of consumer devices inside digital world, said Dave Morgan, the founder along with chief executive of Simulmedia.

“Everybody inside digital video industry can be pretty much in agreement in which 30 to 40 percent of the ad impressions in which are delivered out there don’t actually exist,” said Morgan, whose firm works with brands on targeted TV ads. “Yet nobody could say 30 to 40 percent of TV’s viewing audience doesn’t exist. So I think Nielsen can be very, very afraid of going into a Wild West environment where This particular can be wide open to fraud along with bots.”

According to Nielsen, while measuring authentic digital viewing can be difficult, This particular can be no more difficult than doing so for television. nevertheless despite the ambiguity of the measuring sticks, advertisers don’t want to miss an opportunity to impress a mass audience over 17 days.

“You don’t necessarily want to sit on the sidelines because, ‘Hey — funky measurement,” said Gibbs Haljun, managing director of media investment at GroupM, the media-buying arm of WPP. “in which sort of defeats the point of what they’re trying to do.”

While NBC sees a strong need for better measurement of non-television viewers, especially in sports, This particular won’t necessarily be rolling out TAD across the NBC universe. The Olympics are unique property, with thousands of hours of programming playing out on broadcast along with cable channels, unlike a hit drama like “This particular can be Us,” which could never be shown across a broadcast along with cable channel simultaneously.

The Olympics can be the perfect petri dish for audience measurement,” said NBC’s Lovinger. NBC’s traditional television ratings during the Rio Games were down 15 percent compared to the London Games four years earlier, along with since the network had made separate linear along with digital ratings guarantees for Rio, This particular was left “without the ability to manage delivery across the Games,” Lovinger said.

“You look at the Olympics in Rio along with you look at the kind of decline in linear television viewing along with the supplement of digital viewing, either simultaneous or delayed, along with This particular can be obviously a material difference,” said David Cohen, president of North America at Magna Global, a major ad-buying firm.

So far, TAD seems to be doing its job. Across the first four nights of the Olympics, ratings for NBC only were down 15 percent via the comparable nights in Sochi four years ago. nevertheless the total audience was down just 7 percent. NBC said This particular can be meeting its ratings guarantees, along with has begun selling extra ad inventory in which This particular had held back in case of falling short.

Haljun said in which the timing can be right for NBC’s metric This particular year, nevertheless doesn’t see This particular as a long-term solution.

“We’re at This particular weird point where people agree there needs to be a certified third-party number in which’s comparable across networks,” Haijun said.

“nevertheless we’re inside early days of getting there,” he added. “People are doing different things along with have disagreements on the best way to do This particular.”

Correction: February 13, 2018

An earlier type of This particular article misstated the event in which Megan Clarken qualified for the Olympics. This particular was the long jump, not the high jump.

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