Olympics third least viewed in India

While the Olympics recorded strong viewership in a lot of countries, India remained among the bottom three markets in terms of television viewership for the Olympics. New Zealand tops the list in viewing the biggest sport extravaganza of the year.

According to Lintas Media Group report on the viewership patterns of the Olympics 2008 on TV across the globe received this week, the top 10 Olympics events in India together delivered a 1 TVR while the top viewing market New Zealand garnered a TVR as high as 22.6 for the top 10 events.

Source : Lintas Media Group report

The report has been compiled based on information and analysis of Olympic games TV viewing across 42 markets around the world. These markets include the US, UK, India, France, China, Russia, South Africa, New Zealand, Netherlands among others.

The report states that the opening and closing ceremonies attracted 87 and 73.2 million of people in 35 countries respectively. Traditionally, the opening and closing ceremonies are among most watched Olympic events.

Lintas Media Group chairman and CEO Lynn de Souza says, "India is not yet an Olympic nation. We make heroes of those who do manage a medal, but the medals are so few and far between, and most of the events do not have fan following among the masses. It‘s not surprising that viewership was low."

Source : Lintas Media Group report

Tam data meanwhile shows that 74 million Indians tuned into the biggest sporting event of the year the Olympics which aired on DD Sports last month from 9-24 August. Tam data also shows that while the opening ceremony drew 28 million viewers, the Closing Ceremony only had 15 million. In the metros where the event fared the best it managed a total of 89.9 GRPs from 9-24 August.

The highest GRPs recorded were 8.2 on 20 August driven by athletics. On 16 August, the GRPs were 7.7, driven no doubt by a surge in interest following Abhinav Bindra‘s Gold in shooting.

The GRPs managed on the last day were five. The GRPs on the opening day were not far behind at 4.6 which is impressive given that there was only the opening ceremony. On the other hand, on the last day besides the closing ceremony you also had the finals of some boxing events as well as the men‘s basketball final among other things.

Boxing, athletics and swimming were some of the sports that drove viewership. In the non-metros, the event managed to garner 60.2 GRPs. At an all-India level the figure is 70.4 showing that sport is more a metro-viewing phenomenon. The fact that sport is a male dominated viewing activity is borne out by the fact that 65 per cent of the audience was men. Sec and Sec B took a little over half of the viewership.

In 2004, 67 million viewers tuned in to the extravaganza. Then also the Opening Ceremony did better with 8 mn viewers than the Closing Ceremony with five million viewers. Of course one has to keep in mind the fact that the Tam panel was expanded in 2006.

Source : Lintas Media Group report

Athletics, boxing, basketball, gymnastics and swimming were the most popular sports in the Olympics 2008. The top 10 Olympics events put together garnered an average of 8.4 TVR across the markets.

Apart from New Zealand, Netherlands, Denmark, Lithuania and Thailand watched the Olympics the most. This is despite the fact that they are not leading countries in getting medals apart from the Netherlands which got 16 medals. China watched the Olympics on an average global level while Russia was much below the average global TVR.

Apart from India, the other markets that watched the Olympics the least were Lebanon, Indonesia, Ukraine and Philippines.

NBC hits the jackpot

All these figures though pale in comparison with what US broadcaster NBC achieved. The broadcaster managed to get 214 million viewers across the event. NBC had pushed the Olympics across different properties. For example, the Today show benefitted as did Nightly News. The cable networks airing Olympics coverage also benefitted, drawing a total of 88 million viewers. CNBC, MSNBC, USA and Oxygen all delivered audience increases across key demos. Online at, meanwhile, there were 75.5 million video streams, 51.9 million unique users, 1.24 billion page videos and a total of 9.9 million hours of video consumed.

The Global Scene

Nielsen Media Research estimated that 4.7 billion viewers watched some part of the Olympics. About 70 per cent of Earth‘s population was engaged making the Beijing Games the most-viewed event in TV history. The figure surpassed the 3.9 billion who watched some part of the Athens Games in 2004. Four years earlier, the Sydney Games garnered some 3.6 billion. 94 per cent of China‘s TV homes watched some part of the games.

South Korea matched China‘s 94 per cent share, albeit gauged against a smaller population base, while 93 per cent of Mexican residents saw some part of the Games.

The Ad scenario

While Doordarshan had failed to get big sponsors this year for Beijing Olympics it looks like it‘s the news channels that have raked in the actual moolah.

Doordarshan deputy DG sports Ashok Jailkhani says, "At the time of the Athens Olympics, DD had earned Rs 50 million of revenue and this time we have been able garner around Rs 80 million of revenue." DD is believed to have spent around Rs. 170 million on the games.

However, this year the absence of major advertisers were felt. The list of advertisers for this year‘s Olympics included Samsung, BSNL, LIC and the ministry of rural development apart from Maruti, ITC, Amul, Lenovo and some government departments.

Says Prasar Bharati CEO B S Lali, "Last time, during Athens Olympics, DD had big sponsors like IOC who had invested Rs 20 million and Hero Honda had invested Rs 10 million. This time, that kind of large sponsors were missing yet the number of advertisers that had come to DD was much more as compared to the last time."

Mindshare‘s Amin Lakhani notes that news channels created hype around the event especially when India won three medals. "There was a lot of analysis. Each day one could catch highlights. This meant that viewers tuned in to them to catch the action. Advertisers naturally followed suit and many of them preferred news channels to DD. Also DD did not do any marketing but that was to be expected. When does DD ever market an event?"

NBC made over a billion dollars from the Olympics. Hot day parts included swimming and gymnastics particularly with Michael Phelps breaking Mark Spitz‘s record for most gold medals in a single Olympics. Oxygen‘s gymnastics coverage gained interest from advertisers who were looking for female demos, and CNBC‘s coverage of boxing got money from advertisers looking for heavily male-skewed demographics.

Need for Introspection

DD had despatched teams of 11 cameras with crew to cover the event but DD‘s coverage of the event drew flake and the public broadcaster was forced to remodel its programming after an emergency meeting.

Lali concedes that there is always scope of improvement. "In case of the Beijing Olympics, the DD crew reached the venue quite late. And, yes, the overage was criticised however an instant action was taken by the DD crew to provide better coverage at their end."

While the Beijing Olympics have ended for now, the public broadcaster will be holding a review meeting where it will take a close look at what went wrong so that it prepares itself for the Commonwealth Games in 2010.

"We will hold a review meeting and draw a list of lessons that we have learnt from this year‘s Olympics. There have been some issues like the packaging of programmes, selection of commentators, the style of covering the event, etc; which requires thought," noted Lali.

News channels made hay as India shone with single Gold

As the medal tally of India shone with a single Gold and two Bronze, news channels made hay. In the 17-days sports extravaganza news channel both Hindi and English diverted the spotlight to Olympics coverage.

As per Tam data, HSM, 15+ , C & S, Hindi news channels devoted 5036 minutes (8 to 24 Aug) from a marginal 382 minutes (22 July to 7 Aug) in covering sports.

The English news channels increased its coverage of sports exponentially. From 1705 minutes (All India, 15+, C &S), coverage of sports by English news channels surged to 7060 minutes during the 17-days of Olympics.

Sports coverage by Hindi news channels increased to 3 per cent, while it has expanded to 4 per cent from 1 per cent in the English news channel space.

Naturally, the sports genre in Hindi news channels increased to 4 per cent (8 to 24 Aug) from 0.8 per cent (22 Jul to 7 Aug). During the period, in the English news channels space the genre expanded to 7.5 per cent (All India) from 1.8 per cent.

As per the Centre for Media Studies (CMS), NDTV 24X7 did 112 stories, 13 special shows and as a whole devoted 738 minutes on Olympics coverage. On the contrast, DD News had 1133 minutes of Olympics stories of which 24 were special stories. CNN-IBN devoted 914 minutes (24 special stories) of Olympics coverage, NDTV 24X7 738 minutes (13 stories), Aaj Tak 627 minutes (24 special stories), Zee News 607 minutes (17 special stories), while Star News had only 507 minutes (14 special stories).


Doordarshan would have done far better had there been more planning. To say that the airing was ad hoc and haphazard was to put it mildly. Take, for instance, the swimming. Michael Phelps going for eight Gold medals and successfully doing it is something that might not be repeated for quite a while. Broadcasters including NBC in the US used this as their tentpole event everyday while the swimming was on. That created huge appointment viewing. Not DD though. Sometimes he was shown, sometimes he wasn‘t.

Sometimes instead of this marquee event, a preliminary hockey match was shown. On another occasion, a gripping and close men‘s tennis semi-final match between Nadal and DJokovic was cut short as the broadcaster felt it fit to showcase India‘s performance at Beijing for that day. Surely this could have waited or aired on DD National.

What was also infuriating was the inane discussions that went on in the studio while medals were being decided upon. In fact ESS who has the rights for the 2012 London Olympics should study what DD did as a lesson on how not to cover the event.

Expecting any other sports event other than cricket to find more TV viewership loyalty is a futile exercise. However, still hoping for a bite in the ad and viewership pie of the Commonwealth Youth Games and Commonwealth games, Prasar Bharati and the Press Information Bureau are investing Rs 4.63 billion for its coverage.

The Youth Games are commencing in Pune on 12 October and will continue till 18 October while the XIX Commonwealth Games are to be held at New Delhi from 3 to 14 October 2010.

Prasar Bharati through Doordarshan and All India Radio is the host broadcaster of both the Games.

Meanwhile, the Union Cabinet has approved the release of additional funds of Rs 435 million to the Organising Committee for the conduct of the Commonwealth Youth Games, thus raising the total to Rs 1.10 billion. This is in addition to the funds made available by Government of India for City and Sports infrastructure to the funds given by the Maharashtra Government for Pune for the Commonwealth Youth Games.

The Government had earlier approved an expenditure budget of Rs 7.67 billion as a loan to the Committee of Commonwealth Games for conduct of Commonwealth Games 2010 and Commonwealth Youth Games, out of which a budget of Rs 665 million was for the conduct of Commonwealth Youth Games.

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