Opening Weekend for 2010 Winter Olympics: 117 Million US Viewers

Check out this article by Robert Seidman on TVbytheNumbers.com In it, he cites Nielsen ratings indicating this year’s opening ceremonies beat the Torino Olympics’ opening weekend by 5 million viewers. The average of 28.6 million viewers over the first weekend beat Torino’s first weekend by 25%.

This beats the 106.5 million viewers last weekend for the Super Bowl (see the prior post in this blog), but that was much more concentrated in time. The Super Bowl got a 68 share while the Olympics first weekend got a 26.

The Olympics also did well on the smaller screens. Three Olympics apps are currently in the top 10 on iTunes, and NBCOlympics.com traffic is 250% higher than it was for Torino. It has only been a few days, but there have already been more unique viewers for NBCOlympics.com during the Vancouver Olympics than than there were for the whole Torino Olympics.

Play With Your TV! (a shameless plug for my #1 client, Ensequence)
If you are watching the Olympics via Dish Networks or Verizon FiOS, then you can access weblike interactive content right on your TV screen alongside your favorite Olympics events. Once you tune to MSNBC, CNBC, or USA, a prompt will pop up (nothing on NBC itself, as far as I know). Clicking the “Select” button on your remote starts an interactive experience that includes Top Stories, Medal Counts, Athlete Bios, and more. Real interactive TV in the wild. Check it out!

How To Maximize Viewer Participation In Your Interactive TV Applications

Here are several ideas to drive maximum interactive participation and duration for your interactive television application:

Idea One: Begin With the End in Mind (apologies to Stephen Covey)

What is your business objective? If you get specific about what you want viewers to do with your interactive experience, you can design to make that more likely. For example, if you want viewers to interact for a long time, that favors design that is immersive and absorbing, with lots of content and lots of features. On the other hand, if you want to get the highest possible number of viewers to participate in the experience, then an unobtrusive and streamlined experience is what you want, with very focused functionality (e.g., opt in, vote for your favorite contestant, then exit).

Idea Two: Have a Compelling Viewer Value Proposition

Once you know what you want the viewer to do, you need to design an experience that meets that objective AND gives the viewer compelling value for the time they spend interacting. A weak viewer value proposition yields weak performance vs. your business goals.

Idea Three: It All Starts With a Click (No Click = No Participation)

Viewers will likely have no advance knowledge about what a particular interactive application does (or even what iTV is), or why they should care about it, so whatever is displayed on the screen to entice/enable them to start the experience is critical. I visualize the flow of viewers into an interactive application as a huge funnel with a very tiny hole in it. You want to:
1. Make the hole at the bottom of the funnel less tiny – make the prompt visible, enticing, and self-explanatory
2. Increase the “pressure” in the funnel – present a call to action that makes it obvious and compelling why viewers should interact (communicate your viewer value proposition)
3. Fill the funnel with as many potential interactors as possible – by presenting the opportunity to start the experience to as many of viewers as possible.

Idea Three: Present Many Opportunities to Opt In

Interactive experiences with more opportunities to enter them get more viewers participation. That means:
1. Present the opportunity more frequently during a given program or ad
2. Present the opportunity in multiple contexts (triggers in programs or ads as well as listings and banners in operator interactive portals)
3. Present the opportunity at multiple times of day

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