American swimmer Michael Phelps and Jamaican track athlete Usain Bolt were the main draws at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Particularly, audiences at the TV sets increased with each gold medal Michael Phelps put around his neck. In London, both Phelps and Bolt will have strong competition from their teammates as well as other athletes, but the games will still be an attractive event to watch. Here is why:

  • Time difference with London is only 5-8 hours  vs. Beijing 12-15 hours – more opportunities for live event watching
  • Exciting battles will take place in the pool between Michael Phelps and his teammate Ryan Lochte, and the women – Rebecca Soni or Natalie Coughlin have very good medal chances as well
  • USA Track & Field team is hyped up to challenge Jamaica’s dominance – Alyson Felix and Morgan Uceny will be strong medal contenders
  • Gymnastic team is ready to pick up some medals namely Jordyn Wieber and Gabby Douglas

Broadcast from London will be covered by NBC and broadcast over their various cable networks including NBC sports, MSNBC, CNBC and Bravo – a total of more than 800 hours of live and recorded coverage of the Olympic events. You can expect NBC and Olympic Games to be linked at least through 2020 as NBC won a bid against FOX and ESPN/ABC and paid a hefty $4.38 billion to broadcast the next four Games.

From the advertiser’s perspective, according to Nielsen Media Research, when the Olympic Games are on television, 87% of the country is tuning in. During the Beijing Games, the average HH rating in Philadelphia DMA during primetime rotation was 16.6 points. Specific events, such as the swimming competition and the track & field competitions are sure to bring in large audiences this year as well. It seems that advertisers are aware of that and want to be associated in some way with the Olympic Games broadcast. According to the New York Times, NBC reached $1 billion in advertising sales, which is $150 million more than four years ago during the Beijing Games. The increase is attributed to the inclusion of online advertising which has seen a growth of about 200 percent. One might think that the $1 billion in advertising sales will surely cover the cost of purchasing the broadcast rights. Unfortunately that still remains to be seen as NBC will still have to cover its cost for production.

Don’t forget to tune in this Friday at 7:30PM EST to NBC to watch the Opening Ceremony. We will be watching the ratings throughout the following 17 days and bring you a report in mid-August. Meanwhile, you can check out our reports from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing as we look back in time.