Monday, August 8, 2016

Rio TV Ratings Behind Barcelona Cause Merica (no really 'merica)

Olympics TV Ratings for the opening weekend in Rio are not looking good for NBC. For the 1st weekend TV viewership was lower than the 1992 Barcelona games.

It would be easy to point fingers at NBC on this. Don't.

London, Atlanta, Beijing and Barcelona all bested Rio in first weekend viewership. Rio outperformed Seoul, Athens and Sydney.  
Like with other recent games, Rio has been had faced a mountain of bad PR about the city, facilities, and logistics.
Hope's were high for Rio. As many know Brazil is a BRIC country, an emerging powerhouse in the global economy. Like the games greatly elevated my hometown of Atlanta, many saw Rio as a great breakout opportunity to get the world excited for what Brazil was capable of and to showcase it's future.

For months the headlines have been brutal. If the crime in Rio wouldn't get you, the pollution would, or the Zika, or the... you get the picture.

First Weekend Rio TV Viewership - By The Numbers:
Blame it on Rio? Not so fast. 
What's missing? 'Merica (also pronounced 'Murica)
This guy is ready to cheer. Get him to a TV (or computer, or tablet, or smartphone...)

My Take:

  • The Olympics are about global unity
  • They are also about competition and promoting national success
  • Overt patriotism is not fashionable.
  • The topic of nationalism is a topic being debated, including what role of the USA should play globally versus focusing on itself at home
  • Stories leading up to the games focused around real physical danger to athletes. That storyline is depressing and overshadows the games itself. 
  • Storylines before the games are important. Too much of that was dominated by the lack of readiness of the venue itself.

In the coming weeks we'll likely hear that TV viewership was down, but online was up. While this shift will likely be good for my industry as a digital marketer, the greater storyline should be how do we get overall viewership up? There's a lot more potential viewers today than during 1992 Barcelona games. Some of this is likely education about unfamiliar events that are only seen once every 4 years (what are the rules, who are the athletes, who is likely to win). Alternatively, the format and user experience itself might be a big issue. 

As marketers we know the importance of a video clip being short, the shorter the better. We also know the drop off after 30-45 seconds if the content isn't compelling. Watching a video clip is easy, getting a viewer to participate in the pre-event analysis, commercials, and continue afterwards to watch other events is the hard part. We can help by integrating the omni-channel, but with this integration also comes a distraction, an additional screen, during the events. 

  1. We need to find a way to be united by the games. If we had a fraction a country another country had during World Cup it would be an amazing cultural event
  2. Consumers have changed how they interact with video and media. The TV may be a secondary screen. Social media sharing short clips consumed on a tablet or smart phone are view much likely to be in use while watching the games
  3. Without a rally to #1, many advertisers locked into expensive sponsorship commitments look like they are going through the motions of connecting their brand to supporting and cheering on #TeamUSA.
  4. Sponsors can leverage the omni channel to create better user experiences, in this case "stickiness" towards the games, and better remembrance of the role their sponsorship played. 

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