Live Sports Still Playing Ball

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Increasing use of the Web and mobile platforms among sports
fans doesn't seem to be pushing viewers away from watching high-profile live
sports events on television.

This month alone, marquee TV sports events such as the NBA
All-Star Game and the Vancouver Winter Olympics have produced significant
audience totals on screen. The staggering digital and mobile impressions these
events have generated are nearly as impressive.

Through the first 13 days of NBC Universal's broadcast and
cable coverage of the Winter Olympics, the action from Vancouver had drawn 177
million viewers, 4 million more than the same time period four years ago,
during the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy.

Through roughly the same period, NBC Olympics mobile content
generated 67 million views, almost double the entire 17-day page view total for
the Beijing Summer Olympics two years ago. In addition, mobile device users
streamed more than 1.6 million videos related to the games on their handhelds,
more than five times the 17-day total for the Beijing
games.

A similar scenario played itself out during Turner Sports'
coverage of the Feb. 14 NBA All-Star game. TNT
drew nearly 7 million viewers for its Feb. 14 All-Star game against very stiff
competition from the opening weekend of the Winter Olympics.

While the numbers were slightly down from last year, the
digital traffic surrounding the All-Star Game hit all-time highs. NBA.com set a
single day mark of 4.95 million video streams the day of the All-Star Game. The
site offered video highlights from the All-Star weekend as well as the game
itself.  

In a television landscape where it's commonplace for viewers
to catch episodes of popular shows like USA's Burn Notice or Fox's 24 at their
leisure on demand - on the Web or via DVR - live sporting events remain one of
the few TV options still best served live.

Viewers prefer to watch sports as it happens, but are
increasingly using new media to access highlights and statistics or to chat
about the latest LeBron James or Derek Jeter news before, during and after
their games.

It all just enhances the appeal of the live-game
telecasts when it's time to play ball.

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