Olympic Broadcast Wins Young Men

Hard-to-Reach Demo Drives NBC's Record Viewership of 214 Million

By Published on .

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The Olympics on NBC snagged what is now touted as the largest number of viewers for any televised event -- 214 million across 17 days -- a feat that proves what network TV can do when it broadcasts programming that has the broadest appeal. One media-buying firm is suggesting that some of that success was driven by a demographic group that has proven increasingly difficult for network TV to reach: young male viewers.
Prime time matches between bikini-clad volleyball teams may have helped boost the number of men between the ages of 18 to 24 who watched the Olympics.
Prime time matches between bikini-clad volleyball teams may have helped boost the number of men between the ages of 18 to 24 who watched the Olympics. Credit: AP

"While the 2008 Olympics may have shattered both world records and viewing records alike, its greatest ratings accomplishment may have been its ability to draw an elusive target back to the screen," according to research from Havas media buyer MPG. "Younger male demos have generally been known for the relatively little time they spend on TV compared to video games and the internet."

40% increase
The number of men between the ages of 18 to 24 who watched the Olympics jumped 40% compared with the Athens games in 2004 (same-day DVR playback generated an additional 4%), the greatest increase of any demographic group, according to research from Havas media firm MPG. Even on nights when viewership was down among most male demos, younger men often showed double-digit increases, posting gains every night in prime time vs. 2004, MPG said.

During NBC's 17-day telecast, 43% of all men between the ages of 18 and 24 tuned in to its prime-time Olympic coverage, according to MPG.

The increases were partially driven by successful outings by U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps and Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, said Nina Kanter, VP-director of communications analysis at MPG. "We think it's the personalities," she said, along with the kinds of events that were broadcast during prime time, such as BMX bike racing and matches between bikini-clad volleyball teams.
In this article:
Most Popular