Did the DVR and HD impact NBCOlympics.com traffic numbers?

Did the DVR and HD impact NBCOlympics.com traffic numbers?

Summary: My ZDNet colleagues Tom Steinert-Threlkeld and  Ryan Stewart ran the raw numbers on Olympics online viewership. While the amount of traffic on the videos over the weekend was impressive --  3.

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My ZDNet colleagues Tom Steinert-Threlkeld and  Ryan Stewart ran the raw numbers on Olympics online viewership. While the amount of traffic on the videos over the weekend was impressive --  3.42 million video streams with 66.7 million page views and an average visit of 15 minutes on August 10th alone, the fact of the matter remains that when comparing it to the highest volume video streaming web site in the world, YouTube, it only represents a small fraction of that site's daily volume, approximately 2 percent.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

Why such comparatively low numbers? Doesn't everyone love sports and the Olympics?

Sure they do. But I think there are some mitigating factors as to why we are seeing less online viewership.

First, I expect that live television viewership to be equally affected because most of the Olympic events are occurring when most of us adults in the United States are sleeping. I say most adults, because I'm not counting the Red Bull-powered college kids and people who live on Vampire Time, like some of my out-of-work friends. So people aren't awake to watch most of it.

Second is the advent and wide proliferation of DVR technology. Many of us have cable or satellite, and some are lucky enough to have FiOS or similar fiber service. Many of us have DVRs like Tivos, or the DirecTV HR series or the DishDVR combined with these services, integrated DVR cable set-tops or are DVRing using over-the-air antennae,  so we time shift our viewing. We're not watching the events until the following morning during breakfast or until we get back from work the next day.

Third is the proliferation of High Definition television. While I wouldn't consider HD penetration to be at majority levels yet, enough households do have them, particularly in combination with DVR technology, that a online-based experience is just not going to match the visual beauty and awe of watching it on a super crisp, super detailed and bright HD screen. While the Silverlight content is indeed excellent, and it has the ability to show coverage of stuff that isn't shown on TV, as well as quick access to the important medal-winning events, it doesnt compare to watching it on a 32 inch or greater HDTV set.

Fourth is quite simple -- during work hours, sucking down streaming video is a big demand on corporate bandwidth, and companies are likely to blacklist the site for fears of decreased productivity. And frankly, nobody wants to get caught watching Phelps do the Aquaman thing when they are supposed to be crunching an Excel spreadsheet or creating their TPS reports.

Are you watching the Olympics on the web, watching live events, or are you a time shifter? And has Hi-Def changed altered your viewing preferences? Talk Back and let me know.

Topics: Browser, Hardware, Mobility, Software Development

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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Talkback

40 comments
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  • Always proofread your article...

    ...before submitting. :)

    "While I wouldn?t consider HD penetration to be at majority levels yet, enough households have do them..."
    bricar2
  • You neglected to mention another possibility.

    Why bother to watch when you already know who's won?
    Letophoro
    • Sure, thats some of it.

      But that's like saying you don't want to go see a movie because someone told you how it ends.

      Access to websites and newspapers that tell you the medal count for the day's events is convenient, but many people watch to watch. I mean just saying that Phelps won a medal is one thing, but actually watching that race when he came in from behind? Come on.
      jperlow
      • Sixth Sense and The Usual Suspects.

        "But that's like saying you don't want to go see a movie because someone told you how it ends."

        Sure, you could have gone to watch The Sixth Sense or The Usual Suspects after someone told you the ending. Either was still a decent movie, but you would miss out on the exciting surprise ending that made the whole movie great.

        Phelps is more the exception than the rule with the Olympics. The come from behind win to set a new world record was pretty impressive. But that's something exciting.

        How about watching synchronized men's diving or 45 kg female weightlifting? You already know the US didn't medal, so why bother?

        Even if something was interesting, I'd rather TiVo the whole thing and skip to the three or four minutes that I might care about on any given day. Most of the time I'd rather watch a MASH rerun than NBC's rehashing of what I already know.
        Letophoro
      • Not me

        Personally I don't find it worth my time when it's sports. A movie or book at something to entertain me from beginning to end. Sports pretty doesn't do that for me. There is something about the competition that is lost once you know who won. So unless you a big time fan of the sport in particular it's pretty much boring to watch if you know who won. For summer sports I'm pretty much not interested in most of it but curious to see who's won gold, silver and bronze.
        voska1
    • And another thing....

      YouTube can be streamed by anyone, anywhere on the planet... well, except for the Chinese in China.

      The NBC streams, on the other hand, are supposedly only available to IP addresses residing withing the USA.

      Seems like that would kill a lot of potential traffic as well.
      Hallowed are the Ori
      • Not a big deal...

        [b]The NBC streams, on the other hand, are supposedly only available to IP addresses residing withing the USA.

        Seems like that would kill a lot of potential traffic as well.[/b]

        Other countries have their own version - The BBC, for instance, has their own streaming deal going. Of course, the Beeb's streams are only available if your IP is from the UK.
        Wolfie2K3
  • The biggest factor is

    ... imo that NBC keeps the coverage of the most popular sports on TV instead of LIVE online. You can for example watch weight lifting all you want online, but that doesn't attract a whole bunch of viewers. It's the coverage on basketball, Phelps, track & field and so on generating the ratings.
    LBiege
  • Beating a dead horse.. <wack wack wack>

    I watched last night via my tv/dvr. I watched part live and part dvr. Btw they stuff a commercial in whereever they can stick it and my dvrs fast forward button is starting to break.
    Been_Done_Before
  • Why?

    Why do you people keep comparing the online Olympic numbers with that of YouTube, but then somehow forget that YouTube is worldwide while the online Olympics are constrained to the US only? Do you realize that there are people outside the US? With computers no less?

    That might be a [b]big[/b] reason for why the Olympic numbers are so much lower.
    Qbt
    • Well said...

      ...
      safesax2002
  • Or, the Olympics are just too boring

    No, I am not talking about the actual events, its the "color commentary" that puts me to sleep. I don't care if Phellps has a GF backhome, I don't care if the 16 year old Shawn is diung ok in school back in Iowa, on and on.
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • I'm with ya

      I liked watching some Olympic events until about 1992 back when the media coverage was quaint and focused on the sport, and it was a treat to see every 4 years. Now with the tarted up, melodramatic media coverage, and an Olympic event every 2 years, it is a snore fest.
      colinnwn
      • And don't forget....

        The announcers who seem to think that they won't get paid if they stop talking for a few seconds. (And that's one nice thing about the live online streams: no loudmouthed announcers)

        See if you can find a clip online of the 2002 Winter Games in SLC where they silently marched into the stadium with the US flag that had been at the WTC site.

        It was a moment to remember... unfortunately, what I remember was that Katie Couric and Bob Costas wouldn't shut their damned mouths for 5 seconds.

        And while I didn't care enough and/or pay enough attention to remember who was doing the announcing, they did the same thing at the opening ceremonies in China.

        You just want to scream at the damn TV "JUST SHUT THE F**K UP AND LET IT SPEAK FOR ITSELF!!!!"
        Hallowed are the Ori
  • I want to be the 'Rollie Cam'!

    I just don't see why NASCAR and Iroman(r) are STILL the only
    leaders in the fusion. I mean, come on, all the bragging
    about HD and how we can get-it anywhere. We know that's
    been possible for decades. So why can't I switch
    angles/athletes-on-demand and get the whole picture of an
    event? And it shouldn't matter if live or DVR'd. It would be a
    boon to monitor the heart rates and the nutrients that go
    into the athlete in realtime as well (i.e. triathlon, marathon,
    etc). That's reality for us.
    dascha1
  • The main reason not to watch the Olympics online ...

    ... is that I would have to download and install Silverlight.
    Thanks, but no thanks!
    Jens T.
    • Thats why I'm not...

      I don't care to install Silverlight. So I am fine not watching them. And surprisingly, many friends that I have asked have said the same thing. They don't feel like installing software just to watch the olympics online.
      Stuka
      • Your choice

        If you don't want to spend the 8 seconds downloading and installing the software, yet want to spend the 3 minutes online complaining about how you "just don't feel like it", then that is your choice.

        Except it makes no logical sense. Unless of course you are an ABMer and your choice is to rather lose out on life's interesting moments because of your little anti-MS jihad.

        You make your own choices - just don't complain to us about your bad choices.
        Qbt
        • I wouldn't download it either

          I wouldn't do it just because it's installing something I'd use for few minutes during the whole games. Not worth it to add junk to my PC. Nothing against Microsoft here, I'm sure it works slick but I just don't want it lingering around after the games. So no problem, I just set the PVR and watch when I want. Much easier in my opinion and they still let you do it amazingly. I usually get the stupid record blocking signal.
          voska1
          • the thing is it's not just downloading it to watch one thing i'm seeing

            the thing is it's not just downloading it to watch one thing. i'm seeing more and more sites using silver light instead of flash. so it will not be long before we will have to have both flash and silver light to watch media on the web. depending on the site you visit.
            SO.CAL Guy