NBC: Nearly half of Olympics streams are from mobile, tablet

Nevermind “the first social media Olympics”. What’s really true is this – London’s is the first Summer Games when online video has been consumed in such high quantities and so avidly on portable devices.

Defending itself against this week’s “#NBCFail” criticism, NBC on Thursday revealed stats from its first five days online video streaming. NBC research president Alan Wurtzel told journalists:

  • “Nearly 28 million people have visited NBCOlympics.com – eight percent higher compared to Beijing.”
  • 64 million total video streams served across all platforms – 182 percent increase over Beijing
  • Served 5.3m hours of live video – already “surpassed the total of all the games we streamed in Beijing”.

That website traffic growth is minimal for a four-year time advance. The biggest revelation is in mobile and video specifically…

  • 60 percent of video streams are happening “online” (ie. desktop web), “another 45 percent is (from) a combination of tablet and phones“, Wurtzel said.
  • “Nearly 4.6m people have gone to the mobile site – double the number from Beijing.
  • “Apps for mobile have consistently been among the top five apps in the app store since the games began, and have been downloaded more than six million times.”

Of course, not much of this is necessarily a surprise in growth terms. Some of these devices (ie. tablets) didn’t even exist four years ago; smartphones were around but are now commonplace, pushed in to many more owner’s hands by the Android boom and general adoption growth.

But the ratio of mobile viewing amongst the total is interesting.

“Sixty percent of Americans don’t even work in an office,” Wurtzel said. “A lot of those folks are going to be watching on mobile for the first time”.

That so many of the streams are viewed whilst portable – most likely during day time – may be a happy fact for NBC. A natural consequence of this may be to gather the largest audience on users’ best screen – their TV – during the evening.

There is one looming challenge. Right now, most internet streams are to dedicated mobile devices and to the web. In another four years, internet video to living room TVs will be commonplace. Internet-connected TVs present an opportunity to super-serve audiences with copious live coverage – but broadcasters may be disallowed from streaming to “TV” in this way by their cable partners.