NBC to use Silverlight and Olympics for Audience Research

With the Olympics starting in one month, NBC is preparing a research study on how different types of media platforms are used. They will be using the Olympics coverage – and the different methods that users can access it by, to conduct a large-scale media study in conjunction with some partners. Currently, most major sporting events can be watched online, and by mobile, and NBC would like to use the Olympics to develop a clearer picture on different forms of media consumption.

NBC has scheduled 3,600 hours of television programming on 6 different networks, and is using Microsoft’s Silverlight platform for online streaming and on-demand video services. 2200 hours of streaming coverage is scheduled for NBCOlympics.com as well as 3000 hours of on-demand services. The content is available on the website, on NBC and through its affiliates, and on mobile phones.

NBC will be working with Nielson Media Research, Quantcast Corp, and Integrated Media Measurement Inc. to compile viewership results over the different channels of media. With this information, they hope to calculate a Total Audience Measurement Index (TAMI) to account for viewership over TV, broadband, and mobile. The results will helpfully allow NBC to better understand their audience and demand for different forms of media through different devices.

With the old television model, networks relied on surveys of a small portion of viewers to gauge audience metrics, ratings and tastes. With an online model, data is instantly available from all viewers, and with a finer granuality – such as which portions of videos or shows were viewed.

The Silverlight service at NBCOlympics.com has been built as part of a partnership with Microsoft, who are looking to use the event to further distribution of the Silverlight client platform. The Olympics and the size of the audience it attracts (the largest sporting event in the world, and the largest overall TV audience in the world after the World Cup) will further gauge the popularity of online media as well as investigate revenue models. For Microsoft, it offers the perfect opportunity to disseminate Silverlight as a brand (the NBC sites all have ‘get Silverlight’ links) and to build up distribution.