Prime ratings surge during Olympics – Sky TV, rival Freeview claim victory
Sky TV and rival Freeview are both claiming victory over Nielsen figures that show huge viewership figures for the London Olympics on Sky TV-owned Prime.
There may have been social media grizzles about channel's slightly delayed coverage and ads during the opening and closing ceremony.
But Prime delivered for Sky, capturing an audience that was a stunning 4.5 times higher than its weekly average in the month before the games.
Prime was watched by 83% of New Zealanders over the age of 5 (or (or 3.82 million) tuning into the free-to-air channel’s coverage of the 2012 London Olympics.
The channel showed the games in standard definition digital for all-comers, and in high-definition digital for Sky subscribers (it has now reverted to SD for all platforms).
A taste for free
Freeview general manager Sam Irvine told NBR ONLINE it was "a great result for free-to-air television and shows that New Zealanders still go to free-to-air channels to share in the great moments of New Zealand sport".
Without giving speciific figures, Mr Irvine added, "It was also a very good time for retailers of Freeview approved products with big increases in sales especially of MyFreeview digital TV recorders as Kiwis didn’t want to miss any of the games action given the different time zone."
A Sky TV spokewsoman said the broadcaster would not publicly release ratings for its pay channel coverage – giving Mr Irvine free reign to brag about the numbers achieved by its free-to-air channel (which forms part of the Freeview line up.
[UPDATE: Sky TV told NBR: "For the Sky Ad Sales channels (excluding Prime), the audience increased by 22% across the Olympics period compared with the average of the four weeks preceding the games’. Meanwhile, Throng produced a chart of Nielsen ratings and said it struggled to see any shift in Sky TV's numbers during the games.]
Nielsen ratings released through Throng indicate a healthy bump in viewership for the pay TV broadcaster.
OLYMPIC BOOST: All-day 5+ viewership by network, Aug 1, 2012. Source: Throng/Nielsen.
On any given day, Sky TV is usually the second-placed network after TV One. But taking a day during the Olympics (above), its share is seen surging to 29%.
And Prime, which usually hovers around 5%, jumps to 20.2%
“In total, Prime aired 374 hours of Olympics coverage throughout the Games – 70% more than TV One’s 218 hours for the 2008 Beijing Olympics,” Sky TV CEO John Fellet says.
BACK DOWN TO EARTH: Ratings for Wednesday All-day 5+ viewership by network, Aug 15, 2012. Source: Throng/Nielsen.
The highest one-off ratings came during our “golden hour” on Friday, 3 August, when rowing pair Hamish Bond and Eric Murray and single sculler Mahe Drysdale won their events.
“At 10.45pm on that Friday night, 534,300 viewers aged 5+ stopped whatever else they were doing to watch our athletes get gold,” Mr Fellet says.
Prime News increased its audience by 60% (while both One News and 3 News suffered audience and share losses) and The Crowd Goes Wild attracted record viewers during the Games, averaging a 360% increase, he says.
Nielsen Ratings released via Throng confirm Prime News jumped to more than 220,000 viewers at times. The half-hour news bulletin was the only regular Prime programming as the channel switched to near wall-to-wall games coverage.
Sky TV's video streaming service, iSky.co.nz, crashed during the men's 100m final. The service is usually only open to Sky TV subscribers, but during the Olympics, its highlights and catch-up coverage of the games was made free to all-comers.
Did it crash through being over-whelmed by traffic, or just a technical glitch? Sky TV did not immediately have online ratings to hand but is seeking to provide them to NBR.
Sky TV had 60 staff in London during the games, plus an "Olympic village" invaded its Auckland HQ carpark to feed its eight channels of coverage.
Investors will now be wondering about the impact on the bottom line, and subscriptions. They may get some indication when Sky TV releases its annual result Friday, August 24.
The games fell outside the reporting period, but their impact will no doubt be hot on the lips of analysts.
Sky TV shares [NZX:SKT], which closed at $5.20 yesterday, were up to $5.23 in mid-morning trading.
The stock has a 52-week range of $4.82 to $5.90.