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Tracking the Multiscreen Olympics

2/20/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

Once again, NBCUniversal is
looking at the Olympic Games as a gigantic
Petri dish for media research.

The programmer has engaged Google and
comScore to conduct panel-based research
for its 2012 London Olympic Games coverage,
aiming to produce two separate “proofs of concept”
for single-source measurement of crossplatform
usage. NBCU will work with them on
a series of projects measuring single-source
consumption of video content on broadcast TV,
cable networks, PCs, smartphones and tablets.

It’s the third Olympics that NBCU is using
to try to crack the code on measuring multiplatform
usage. “This is like Halley’s Comet,”
NBCU president of research Alan Wurtzel said.
“It only comes around every two years.”

MUCH BIGGER SAMPLE

This time, the cross-platform measurement
panels will be much bigger than they were
for Beijing in 2008 and Vancouver in 2010.
For those games, NBCU used devices from
San Mateo, Calif.-headquartered IMMI
with 40 and 60 consumers respectively —
an “almost boutique attempt” at multiplatform
measurement, Wurtzel said.
IMMI’s technology has since been
acquired by Arbitron.

By contrast, Google’s panel spanning
TV, mobile and online is slated
to be 3,000 strong. ComScore is putting
together a 750-member group
in partnership with AT&T AdWorks.

NBCU has not announced how
much coverage from the 2012 Summer
Olympics it plans to present on
TV, online and mobile, but “it’s going
to be the most it’s ever been,”
Wurtzel said. For the 2010 Vancouver
games, the programmer
served up some 835 hours
across multiple platforms.

Wurtzel calls the research
project the “Olympics
Billion Dollar Lab,” a
reference to the $2.2 billion
NBCU agreed to pay
for U.S. broadcast rights for
the 2010 and 2012 games.
The company will pay $4.4
billion for the four biennial
games from 2014 to 2020.

According to NBC, ad
sales for the London Games
are tracking well, with slightly
more than $900 million of
inventory sold as of last week.

The point of the Olympics
Billion Dollar Lab is
twofold: to measure media
consumption of the Olympics itself in
reports for programming executives and advertisers,
and more broadly to understand
how people access content across TV, online,
smartphones and tablets. With Google
and comScore, NBCU will be able to analyze
viewing according to demographic criteria.

“We want to understand
not only the usage,
but also which measurement
methods work better,”
Wurtzel said.

The Google and comScore
research will not be “a ‘national’
sample,” he added.
“The first thing we need to
do is prove that we can do it.”

The programmer approached
Nielsen and
others about cross-platform
measurement for the
Olympics, but “ultimately
for a lot of reasons we
went with Google and com-
Score,” Wurtzel said.

NBCU hopes to be up
and running with Google
and comScore by late
spring, in order to establish a baseline before
the London Olympics, which run July
27 to Aug. 12.

PHONE FRENZY

“This event spans 17 days — nothing else is
like that,” Wurtzel said. “It has a huge amount
of cross-platform content. I feel
that, going into London, with
40% of phones video-friendly,
we’re going to see video usage on
phones like never before.”

After the Summer Games conclude,
NBCU, Google, and com-
Score intend to share both the
results of consumer media consumption
of Olympics video,
as well as broader implications
about the various approaches to
cross-platform measurement, according
to the companies.

WATCHING THE WATCHERS

NBCU has commissioned two cross-platform studies for the 2012 Olympics:

Google will assemble an opt-in panel of approximately 3,000 consumers,
using a meter-based approach to track usage on different platforms.
The Internet giant will employ proprietary algorithms developed
specifi cally for NBCU.

ComScore’s 750-consumer panel will be culled from the approximately
10,000 members in the TV, online and mobile panel developed with
AT&T AdWorks. Data sources will include U-verse TV set-tops, electronic
meters and panelist self-reports.

SOURCE: Multichannel News research

September