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NBC: Millennials devour Rio Olympic Games


Tue, Aug 23rd 2016 03:15 pm

Nearly 5 times as many millennials watched primetime Olympics on NBC than watched primetime during TV season

NBC report

Whether it was watching Usain Bolt in primetime, streaming Simone Biles on the NBC Sports app, interacting with Michael Phelps on Facebook Live, or watching the highlight of Neymar's game-winning goal in the men's soccer final on NBC Olympics' Snapchat Discover channel, one thing is clear: Millennials love the Olympics.

Video consumption of Rio 2016 by the advertiser-coveted demographic across NBC Olympics' TV screens, digital platforms and social media set records, according to research conducted by NBC, Facebook, Snapchat, Google/YouTube, Shareablee and The Nielsen Company.

The audience for NBC's primetime Olympics presentation had a far larger proportion of millennial viewers than the 2015-16 primetime TV season. Nearly five times (382 percent higher) as many adults 18-34 watched the Rio Olympics in primetime (5.3 rating) than watched on the four broadcast networks (1.1 average rating). That compares favorably to the Olympics advantage over the TV season among adults 35-49 (plus-336 percent Olympics advantage over primetime season) and adults ages 50-plus (up 223 percent). NBC's 5.3 rating for P18-34 during the Games was equal to the next 22 networks combined (based on data currently available, through Aug. 18). 

"There is no event that aggregates audiences on such a massive scale for so long and across as many platforms as the Olympics, and that includes young people," said Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBC Sports Group. "Our research shows and the audience consumption proves that millennials were highly interested, enthusiastic and engaged in the Rio Olympics."

In addition to the nearly 200 million viewers on NBC's 11 English and Spanish language linear channels carrying coverage of the Rio Games, nearly 50 million viewers streamed 3.4 billion minutes of NBC's Rio coverage on web, mobile and connected devices, with more than half of those viewers under the age of 35. And more than two-thirds of the viewers of NBC Olympics' highlights on Facebook, Snapchat and Google/YouTube were under the age of 35, leading to millions of referrals to NBC's video coverage across all screens.

" 'Television' is no longer just a piece of hardware propped up on a table or hanging on a wall. Rather, 'television' is now a video stream - and in the case of the Olympics, a world-class NBC-produced video stream - delivered to any screen capable of rendering it," said Gary Zenkel, president, NBC Olympics. "America's millennial audience is watching television across multiple screens, supplemented and fueled by their social engagement, which, in the case of Rio 2016, reached new heights across multiple platforms."

Research conducted for NBC Research during the Games by Shareablee said millennials who watched Olympic highlights on social media that day were significantly more likely to watch both NBC's primetime coverage on television and stream NBC's digital content that evening.

NBC Olympics' own social media platforms capitalized on the unique access to venues, athletes and commentators afforded to the exclusive U.S. media rights holder by producing unique content that generated enough traffic to rank No. 1 among sports brands and among all brands for digital engagement during the Games.

Following are millennial and social media highlights for NBC Olympics and some of its social media partnerships.


•More than half of those streaming NBC Olympics' digital video content were under age 35.

There were 100 million uniques and 222 million visits, up 29 percent and 44 percent, respectively, over London 2012.

NBC Olympics digital video totaled 3.4 billion streaming minutes for the Games

A total of 2.71 billion live minutes of coverage streamed - more than 12.5 times the live minutes streamed for the 2015 Super Bowl, and more than 1.2 billion minutes more than the live stream totals for every previous Olympics combined.


•More than 160 Million users reached with Olympic content; nearly 70 million aged 18-34

P18-34 have engaged with Olympic content at an extremely high rate, with nearly 50 percent liking, sharing or commenting on posts.

•More than 600 million video views of NBC Olympics Facebook video.

NBC has nearly 160 Facebook Lives with 39 hours of live programming and 3.5 million-plus live viewers

Over 2,000-plus posts were made on the NBC Olympics Facebook page with nearly 900 of those being video


131 million people had 916 million interactions pertaining to the Rio Olympics


Nearly 33 million Snapchatters consumed NBC-partnered coverage in the U.S., the majority of which were under age 35 

More than 1.9 billion Snaps across NBC-partnered Live and Discover in the U.S., totaling over 190 million minutes of content consumed 


Early estimates found more than 1 billion minutes of Olympics content was watched on YouTube.

Nearly 70 percent of video views were by users were under age 35. 

More than 70 percent of viewers watched from a mobile device.  

NBC Sports saw a seven-times increase in YouTube subscribers during the Games.


90 percent of millennials who watch Olympic highlights on social media say they are adding to my enjoyment of the games.

77 percent say they are more engaged with these Summer Games than previous Olympics, because there a lot of videos on social media to keep them interested.

72 percent say that, compared to prior Olympics, I am going on social media more often to stay connected to the Games.


Millennials who watched Olympic highlight clips on social media are more likely than those who did not watch on social media to watch primetime coverage on television or stream coverage in primetime

Millennials who watched Olympic highlights on social media that day were significantly more likely to watch NBC's primetime coverage on television that evening (84 percent Olympics SM video viewers watched prime vs. 74 percent non-SM video viewers)

•56 percent of millennials who watched Olympic videos on social media that day streamed NBC Olympics' coverage in primetime that evening vs. 19 percent who did not watch Olympic videos on social media that day

•About 4 in 10 (37 percent) millennials who watch Olympic highlights on social media say that it makes them more likely to watch NBC's primetime coverage that evening (50 percent heavy Olympics SM video viewers)

•A similar number (39 percent) say they would have watched anyway (49 percent lighter Olympics SM video viewers) while 15 percent of Olympic highlight video viewers say they are less likely to watch prime coverage on those days


NBC Olympics ranked No. 1 out of 312 sports franchises and No. 1 out of the 800 consumer brands in terms of overall digital engagement from Aug. 3-21 (digital engagement ranking provided by ListenFirst).

Top 5 Sports Franchises include:

  • NBC Olympics
  • FC Barcelona
  • Manchester United FC
  • The Olympics
  • Real Madrid

Top 5 Consumer Brands

  • NBC Olympics
  • Nike
  • The Olympics
  • Lego
  • Samsung Mobile

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