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Discovery draws 212 million viewers to its opening Olympic weekend coverage

Discovery Communications Inc.'s inaugural foray into Olympic coverage yielded some large audiences across Europe over the first weekend of the Pyeongchang Games.

The programmer, which in 2015 secured European rights to the four games from 2018 through 2024 from the International Olympic Committee for $1.4 billion, attracted 212 million users to its presentation of the opening weekend from South Korea.

A combined total of 186 million watched on free-to-air and pay TV vehicles, while another 26 million engaged with the 2018 Winter Games through social and digital platforms. Almost 88 million Europeans tuned in to the opening ceremony Feb. 9 across various platforms, according to the Total Video metric, the new methodology Discovery has introduced in tandem with advertising and public relations agency Publicis Media's Sport and Entertainment division.

Total Video captures viewership and audience engagement across all linear, social and digital vehicles, including Eurosport, Discovery’s pan-European sports network, and its Eurosport Player app.

During the first weekend, the programmer garnered 373 million hours of Olympic video consumption around live event coverage, as well as original content. The total reflects 1.1 million likes, shares and comments across Discovery and Eurosport's digital and social platforms.

A look at individual territories showed that Discovery's Kanal 5 in Sweden notched a 73% audience share Feb. 10, when Swedish cross-country skier Charlotte Skalla earned the first gold medal from Pyeongchang. That was the highest share in the channel's 30-year history.

Norway, which collected nine medals over the first weekend of competition, also supplied significant audiences, as more than 3 million watched on Eurosport and other Discovery vehicles on Feb. 11.

Discovery’s Total Video system is akin to NBCUniversal Media LLC's Total Audience Delivery metric that provides a snapshot of the complete U.S. audience for the Winter Games, whether consumers viewing the coverage on broadcast, cable, social and digital platforms, including those watching via connected devices.

The difference, however, is that the U.S. Olympic rights-holder is transacting against the metric, while Discovery and Publicis are using Total Video to gain insights about how Europeans will engage with the Pyeongchang Games.

In a recent interview, Jean-Briac Perrette, Discovery Networks International President and CEO, said Total Video could serve as the base for an ad sales currency that could be put into play for the 2020 Summer Games from Tokyo.