Live Sports Still Playing Ball


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

While the numbers were slightly
down from last year, the digital traffic
surrounding the All-Star Game hit alltime
highs. 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

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.