POSTED: March 3rd 2018

NEIL WILSON: The Olympics by numbers

THE NEIL WILSON COLUMN / An exclusive, authoritative series from Sports Features Communications

(SFC) Ignore the many empty seats at Winter Olympic events that could be seen on television. Laugh at the Fake News put out by the organising committee that 107% had been sold.

Instead try to get your mind around the really stunning figures for a 16-day festival of sport. How about the figure of 33.6 billion viewing of tweets related to the Games in PyeonChang. Yes, that is Billion.

Or how about the 103 million tweets? Or the 1.85 billion minutes that NBC digitally streamed of the events?

The extreme cold in South Korea, the price of tickets and the absence of affordable hotel rooms may have deterred all but the well-clad and wealthy but there is every reason to believe that the pull of the Winter Olympics around the world is undiminished.

You can point to a drop in the audience rating for NBC in the United States, down 7% on Sochi to the lowest figure for any Olympic Games.

Even that Variety rated "solid at a time when viewing habits are changing". But it is impressive still when you recognize that for two straight weeks NBC's ratings surpassed those of CBS, ABC and Fox combined. That is a massive victory for the Olympics.

Oh, yes, and one more thing - NBC's ad sales were up $120 million on four years earlier almost certainly ensuring a profit around $100 million on this leg of its huge investment of $11.79 billion for the rights to 10 Olympic Games.

The same seems to be the case in Europe. Discovery and Eurosport revealed that in their top 10 markets, almost six in ten Europeans watched. In Norway there was a 93% share for TVNorge for the men's 4 x 10km cross country; on Kanal 5 in Sweden a 83% share for the women's version.

By offering its coverage on its app, website and other social media platforms Discovery also found that it was reaching a younger audience, the Grail for advertisers.

And that is crucial to the Olympic Movement. In 2020, after the summer Games in Tokyo, seven of the IOC's TOP sponsors will reach the end of their contracts. The Olympics' reach into the younger generations will be crucial to the decisions that the boards of these global giants will make about renewal at a time when marketing is exceeding TV rights for the IOC for the first time. 

Thomas Bach has been found wanting in his time as IOC president on reputational matters. He is a pragmatist more than a man of principle. But even his critics - and I count myself among them - cannot argue with his ability for The Deal. 

The Olympic rings may not shine with the lustre they once did but the Movement is certainly richer. The numbers prove it. 

** NEIL WILSON reported his first Olympic Games in Munich in 1972. He has since covered another nine summer and nine winter Olympics for various newspapers, including The Independent and the Daily Mail with whom he has worked for the last 19 years as Athletics and Olympic correspondent. He was Britain's Sports Journalist of the Year in 1984 and is the author of seven books.

****The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sports Features Communications.


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