August 14, 2008

Video viewing on an Olympic scale

According to the Torrent tracking site, TorrentFreak, the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics was the most-downloaded television show for the week of August 3-10th. With well over one million downloads, demand for the opening ceremony far surpassed the interest in other popular shows like “Mad Men” and “So You Think You Can Dance.” As various blogs have reported, Olympics fans can find P2P streams or Torrent files that are made available before the official broadcasts, as well as HD or iPod-ready versions of the events.

Americans’ interest in sports-related video online is not new, but it’s likely getting a big boost from Olympics content driving users to the Web. In our 2007 “Online Video” report, we found that 14% of adult internet users had specifically downloaded or watched sports-related video. Among younger users ages 18-29, the number watching sports video was much higher at 24%. However, that data was gathered before the 2008 Super Bowl and well before the heavily-promoted Beijing games. With NBC and the official Beijing Olympics page providing official online video coverage through their sites, YouTube users uploading “unofficial” content, and Torrent files floating everywhere in between, consuming all of this Olympic video may need to become an event of its own.