NBC To Internet: TV Is Still King

If NBC had to choose a single platform on which to base its business for the next five years, it wouldn't be the Internet or mobile phones. "Sorry, guys, it would be television,'' the president of NBC Universal research said Monday.

If NBC had to choose a single platform on which to base its business for the next five years, it wouldn't be the Internet or mobile phones. "Sorry, guys, it would be television,'' the president of NBC Universal research said Monday.

That is the conclusion of NBC's Alan Wurtzel, speaking the Interactive Advertising Bureau's MIXX Conference & Expo, held in conjunction with Advertising Week 2008 in the home of the "Mad Men," New York.

The comment led off Wurtzel's examination of the results of NBC's "billion-dollar research lab" on cross-media usage: the 2008 Beijing Olympics held last month.

When all was said and done, 90% of all consumption of Olympics content came on the television set, he said. And NBC snared 93% of all TV viewing.

All told, 214 million different people watched the Olympics on NBC's television networks. By comparison, 51.8 million different people came to its web site, NBCOlympics.com.

But here's the interesting stat: Internet users are the most desirable TV viewers.  People who only consumed the Olympics on television spent 3 hours and 26 minutes with the games. Those folks who also spent time on the Internet for games information or watching wound up spending an average of 6 hours and 57 minutes with the TV coverage of the Olympics. Twice as much time, as the TV-only viewer.

There is "absolutely zero cannibalization" of TV viewing by Internet viewing, Wurtzel said.

Some other stats:

* 10 million hours of streaming video were served to Internet viewers

* 1.3 billion page views were sent to Internet readers

* 6.5 million people accessed some piece of Olympics coverage by mobile handset

* 82% of the Olympics audience watched only on TV; only 0.3% watched only on the Internet. Eighteen percent watched on both

* The Internet audience was 7% as big as the TV audience at the 2006 Winter Olympics. This year, the Internet audience was 24% of the size of the TV audience.

Besides watching more TV, Internet users also absorb ad messages better than  TV-only viewers. Brands are recalled by only 35% of TV-only viewers, 46% by those who watched both on the Internet and TV. Messages were recalled by 27% of the TV-only viewers, 38% by those who took in the games on both the Internet and TV.

If anything really got viewers charged up, it was not what they saw on the computer screen. It was the clarity of pictures on high-definition television sets. "High def (is the) killer app,'' Wurtzel said, in 2008. "People always default to the best viewing experience."

If deliverers of video over the Internet were to get any advice from the president of NBC Universal research, it would be to keep it simple. Make it as easy to find, launch and view video as possible. Think the NBC-Fox operated Hulu broadband video network, the Google home page or the Apple iPhone.

In fact, if you want a big TV-like audience on the Web, think about reaching the average TV-channel clicker. Not the geek.