When the starting gun sounded on July 27th, the 2012 London Olympic games shot out of the gates at an astounding rate and managed to set a few world records of its own along the way. Below is a look at the monumental advertising and viewership numbers that catapulted the XXX Olympic games into the history books of network television.
Having paid $1.18 billion for the exclusive U.S. broadcasting rights, NBC clearly had the most riding on the overall success of the event. While this was an obvious hole in which to start from, the network was extremely savvy in their ad approach – selling spots at a premium and partnering with those willing to pay.
- COST OF AD SPACE:
According to Nielsen, a typical 30-second commercial spot on NBC during the 2008 games in Beijing went for $320,000, however, four years later at the London games, the average 30-second spot in prime time cost roughly $725,000, but went as high as $1.5 million.
- NOTABLE ADVERTISERS:
Calling yourself an Official Partner of the London Olympics did not come cheap. Companies such as McDonalds, P&G, Coca Cola, Visa, Samsung and Panasonic paid upwards of $100 million for the privilege of being one of the London Games’ Worldwide Olympic Partners.
In addition to the more traditional product-based companies such as Apple, BMW and the partners above, that you might expect to see advertising during the Olympics, there were a few big spenders from left field as well. Most notably, the Obama campaign spent around $1 million for an ad spot during the opening ceremonies and an additional $5.5 million on ad space throughout the duration Olympic games.
- NEW MARKETS:
While television was by far the most lucrative avenue for ad dollars, perhaps the most surprising new arena was that of digital advertising. Because the iPad was brought to market post-Beijing, an impressive 60 million viewers took to streaming the London events and, as a result, digital advertising income increased 200 percent from just four years earlier.
When the dust finally settled and ad dollars were tallied, NBC had pre-sold roughly $1.25 billion in ad space, topping the $850 million total from the 2008 Olympics. While this put them in the black (for the sake of this argument), it was now time to snare viewers and justify the costly advertising dollars.
In order to justify the massive expenditures and unprecedented 5,535 hours of coverage across NBC and its affiliates, NBC had to wrangle an unprecedented amount of viewers – a feat that they achieved, proudly. In fact, between the opening and closing ceremonies, NBC averaged 31.1 million viewers per night, a number that equated to 219.4 million U.S. viewers in total and making the 2012 Olympics the most-watched event in the history of American television.
EVENTS WITH HIGHEST VIEWERSHIP:
While there were more than 300 events that athletes competed in (between the 26 sports) at the 2012 Olympics, there were certainly an elite few that accounted for the majority of viewership. Below is a look at the 2012 Olympic events that posted the highest number of viewers.
- The Opening Ceremony:
It’s probably not a surprise to hear that the most viewed event in all of the 2012 Olympics was the opening ceremony. Boasting a total of 40.7 million total viewers, a 17% increase from the Beijing games, the Isles of Wonder kick-off event was viewed more than any other.
- The Closing Ceremony:
Falling well short of the opening ceremony but still ranking amongst the Olympic events with the highest viewership was the closing ceremony on August 12th. Featuring some of Britain’s most noted musicians such as George Michael, The Spice Girls, Queen and others, the event attracted 31 million total viewers.
- Aly Raisman Taking the Gold:
Over 30 million viewers gathered around the television to watch as American gymnast, Aly Raisman, took gold in the floor exercise. Coupled with Dawn Harper and Kellie Wells taking silver and bronze, respectively, in the women’s 100m hurdles, this prime-time event drew 30.1 million viewers and became the most watched “second Tuesday” for a non-U.S. Summer Olympics since the Montreal Olympics in 1976.
- Ryan Lochte Defeats Michael Phelps:
Coming off of a historic performance in Beijing, 28.7 million Americans tuned into watch Michael Phelps add to his medal total in the 400-meter individual medley – the most to ever watch the first night of athletic competition at the Summer Olympics. Unfortunately, Phelps was defeated. Fortunately, the victor was Ryan Lochte of Team USA.
- Usain Bolt’s 100m Final:
The gold medal race for the title of The Fastest Man in the World is one of the most prestigious events in all of sport and fittingly, attracted a massive audience at the 2012 games. Over 20 million people watched Usain Bolt outrun the world’s best to win gold in the men’s 100-meter dash.
- USA Men’s Basketball vs. Spain:
Although everybody picked Team USA to win gold on the basketball court very few would have guessed that the gold medal match against Spain would be as close as it was. In all, 12.5 million viewers tuned into the game, a figure that more than doubled the viewership of the men’s gold medal telecast from Beijing games.Also of note, the woman’s basketball gold medal game against France attracted 10.2 million viewers, which was a 73 percent increase from the 2008 gold medal game in Beijing.
- Specific to Streaming
Interestingly enough, though the primetime tape delay didn’t rank amongst the television tops, the single most-streamed event of the London Olympics was the women’s gymnastics team final. Just over 1.5 million users logged on to watch the Team USA take the gold in real time.
As you can see, the 2012 Olympic games was a media giant like we’ve never seen before. Between the unprecedented advertising dollars collected and the record-breaking number of viewers attracted, the London Olympics were truly a trend setter that future games can only hope to emulate, let alone top.