webcasts and ratings

Sports fans will take their addiction any way they can get it. I can attest to this. Last spring I was watching an itty-bitty screen of NCAA March Madness in between teaching classes.  But as it turns out, sports fans always prefer larger screens to tiny computer webcasts of sporting events.  Because of this, no matter how much free sports content you put on the web, television ratings don’t seem to be affected at all.

“We’ve learned that wherever you are, you watch on the biggest screen you can,” Mr. Bowman said.

To be sure, CBS came to this conclusion slowly. In past years, the network Webcast the early games of the NCAA basketball tournament, but you had to tune into television to see the semifinals and final game.

This year’s Web simulcast of the final games “only added to revenues and therefore profit,” he said. A “low single digit” percentage of the total audience for those games was online, and consisted most likely of people who were not able to get to a television.

Mr. Kint suggested that NBC would have done well to follow the same model, at least for the live events, with the Olympics.

Makes sense. Watching sports is often as much about the atmosphere as it is the actual contest.  Sports viewing seems to be a kind of entertainment that can only be enhanced by (rather than diluted by) webcasts and other internet content.  The real threat to viewership is simply having too much programming on television.  The decline in ratings of major sporting events is mostly the result of having 100+ more channels to watch on cable and satellite than it does with the popularity of the sports themselves.  Evidence of this is the booming attendance records experienced by most major sports in the U.S.

Written by brayden king

August 19, 2008 at 3:20 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Oh, what I wouldn’t give for live NFL webcasts here in Europe. I’d pay a good bit for that.



    August 19, 2008 at 5:33 pm

  2. “Mr. Kint suggested that NBC would have done well to follow the same model, at least for the live events, with the Olympics.”

    There’s plenty of live events on NBC’s website for free.. With the possibility of watching up to 4 simultanneous broadcasts too.



    August 19, 2008 at 9:58 pm

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