NBC is cleaning up in the ratings department for the Winter Olympics. But once again, the network is losing out on the Web to Yahoo.
From Feb. 8-14, encompassing the opening ceremonies and first two days of Olympic competition, Yahoo’s dedicated Olympics site drew 9.3 million unique users, according to comScore. That's nearly 3 million more than NBCOlympics.com, which attracted 6.5 million unique users during that time period. ESPN.com also outdrew NBC online during the early days of the Games, coming in second with 8.4 million uniques.
Yahoo’s audience victory echoed the Beijing Summer Games of 2008, when the site also beat NBCOlympics.com and set traffic records for the month of August. This time around, NBC scaled back considerably on the number of live events it is streaming -- showcasing only hockey and curling.
To be fair, both Yahoo Sports and ESPN.com are daily sports destinations for millions of users, and those sites likely benefited from post-Super Bowl traffic, as well as interest in many other sports (overall Yahoo Sports drew over 17.5 million unique users from Feb. 8 through Feb. 14).
However, NBCOlympics.com is being featured prominently on Microsoft's MSN portal and has been promoted constantly during NBC's Olympic broadcasts. The network argues that while its site trails in total audience, it is dominating all comers in audience engagement -- and the early numbers from comScore appear to bear that out. In the first two days of competition NBCOlympics.com generated over 177.4 million page views, more than five times as many as Yahoo's 34.5 million page views.
In the early days of the Games, NBCOlympics.com also bested Yahoo in time spent, averaging 8.2 minutes per visit versus Yahoo's five-plus minutes per visit, according to NBC officials.
NBC is also putting forth the argument that its visitors are consuming far more pages when they visit the site: an average of 27.5 pages per visit vs. just 3.8 average pages per visitor for Yahoo.
See also: "Olympic Opening Boosts Brands"