Monday, August 18, 2008

The online Olympics? Or is it ...

Many of us (including me) thought that the Beijing Olympics would be a huge shot in the arm for online.

It makes sense ... daytime events, people are at work and wanting immediate information. Online is the channel they turn to?


Well ... I'm not so sure after looking at last weeks Nielsen Market Intelligence data across the News and Sport categories.

Above are the Nielsen figures for the Sport category, Domestic browsers, 11/8-17/8

Foxsports is at number 1 at 654,834. SMH Sport and are at 2 and 3 respectively.

The interesting things about the above for me are ...

- The entire category sits at 3.5m UBs, only up 8.7% on the week prior. Last week was when the Olympics really heated up ... but it hasn't really brought any incremental traffic to the category

- Fairfax Digital's SMH Sport is up week on week 216% to 578k weekly users. Their The Age Sport is also up significantly, up 151% to 310k weekly users.

- ninemsn's WWOS is down 40% week on week, to 207k users

Now take a look at the News category ...

As a category, News is sitting at 5.8m domestic users a week for 11/8-16/8 ... a decrease week on week of 3.14%

Most Masthead News sections or web news sources are either flat traffic wise, or down. I personally expected News traffic to spike during the Olympics.

Interestingly, UB frequency is relatively flat, so are page views per person. Both key engagement metrics.

What does this mean? I'm not so sure ...

I would suggest a high proportion of Olympic traffic is going through to and also the beijing2008 site - both of which Nielsen does not have access to.

Yahoo!7 is claiming they had 1.2m unique visitors through to their Olympics site in week 1. Problem is these are internal figures and don't specify whether they are AU eyeballs only. I find it odd that Yahoo!7 chose not to put their Olympics site on Nielsen when it's 100% localised.

Yahoo! is also spruiking incremental traffic to their front page as well. Again, no audited data on this.

So ... maybe the Olympics isn't pulling in any NEW eyeballs for these providers. Already loyal users of sites like The Age, ninemsn etc are moreso visiting their Olympic sections as they navigate through the site as per usual.

Or maybe everyone is just watching it on TV in the office and at home?

What are your thoughts?


alanlong said...

Hey Ben,

The issues are many, a lot of Olympic content is being fed through existing news sub directories, making it difficult to get a fixed read on the market.

At Hitwise we are seeing, and I'll post in detail later in the week, a lot of traffic to the official site, and the local team site.

Yahoo!7's Olympic site is having success in dragging a large share of Olympic online activity - certainly more than in previous Olympiads.

Overall Sports share of online visits up 15% w/e 16/8 vs w/e 9/8 and up 23% against the w/e 2/8.

News and Media sites have only increased 1% - call it remained flat.



Zac Zavos said...

Hi Ben - can you post those images again or with links to larger versions (I couldn't expand them)?

As a sports publisher, we've found the Olympics to be reasonably flat in terms of new traffic or robust discussion.

My sense is that Olympics is about lean-back, grazing type sports consumption rather than heavily involved content (like the Rugby or Football World cups).

Part of the reason for this is that the stories behind most of the events and competitors aren't really known, and Channel 7 aren't doing a great job in bringing them out (eg

The main stories of interest have been channel 7's coverage of the games, China's handling of the event, and Michael Phelps' performances.

I think Alan's right when he says the official sites are seeing most of the traffic. And my guess is that time on site is low; you go to see the medal tally, the schedule, to read about Phelp's records. But not much else.

Hitwise's search stats back this - data oriented searches:

2. olympic medal tally 3. medal tally 4. michael phelps 5. olympic results 8. olympic schedule 9. yahoo7 olympics