I wrote a piece for The Canadian Press Tuesday that takes a look at CBC’s Sochi Olympic ratings compared to four years ago at the Vancouver Games. You can read that story here.
That it is an Apples to oranges comparison is underlined by a fact pointed out to me today by my buddy David Kines over at Hollywood Suite: the first Apple iPad was released in April or 2010–two months after the Vancouver Games.
Thus the explosion in digital viewing during these Sochi Games.
CBC says they scored more than 256 million website views over the course of the Games at cbc.ca/olympics and olympiques.radio-canada.ca. About 14 million hours of online video content was consumed, twice the Vancouver tally. Then again, use of mobile devices for live viewing has exploded in the intervening four years. IPad use, for one, has risen 100%.
I was in Montreal on the weekend visiting my daughter Katie and, since she does not own a TV (where did I go wrong?) we watched the Gold Medal winning Men’s hockey final on her lap top. It was a great experience–very few, if any, commercials on the live feed that I recall. Some of the in-between stuff was cool and interesting.The streaming, by the way, was flawless–no stuttering or stops and starts, just a smooth transmission.
I’m curious how effectively CBC and NBC were able to monetize the record amount of digital viewing and if the ads were aimed more at the 18-49 demo. Certainly the demo numbers were down on the television side of the ratings, 17% down on NBC compared to Vancouver.
Kines suggests he’d heard some banks and big city corporations blocked some of the live streaming  of the Olympic feeds on their internal data networks during the last few days of the Games–not just because employees were goofing off, but because all that streaming was swamping the data networks.
The other big change since Vancouver has been the growth of PVR’s and time shifting. Sochi was played in a Live+7 and even Live+30 world, although that probably is not that much of a factor for the ultimate live sporting event.
The CP story, as well as a bragg-y release early Tuesday from CBC, received some quick push back from CTV. The headline for the CBC release boldly stated: “MORE CANADIANS TUNED IN TO CBC/RADIO-CANADA’S COVERAGE OF THE SOCHI 2014 OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES THAN ANY OTHER OLYMPICS IN HISTORY.”
Wrong, Vodka breath, shot back CTV. The private network’s PR folks claim Vancouver 2010 remains the most-watched Olympic Games in Canada with 33.355 million reached or 99.6% of the population. CBC’s release states Sochi reached 33.35 million, but since Canada’s population has grown since 2010, that represents just 95.7% of Canada’s current population.
So, ours is bigger than yours. And so it goes.
The difference is that the 2010 consortium made way more of their reach on television–allowing CBC to at least claim a digital victory.

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