Every two years, we watch with pride as our young athletes compete against the world's best contenders for Olympic glory. Perhaps because the essence of Olympic excellence – strength, courage, hard work – so closely echoes the tenets of our national character, Americans flock naturally to the media coverage. These Olympic Games are no exception. NBC's coverage of the Olympic Summer Games has already attracted a record-setting audience of its own -- 32 million average nightly viewers over the first 14 nights .
It would be a mistake, however, to focus attention on our national performance alone. Just as Team USA is powered by individual young athletes from around the United States, so too is the national audience built from hundreds of local communities who watch for the chance to experience their homegrown heroes become global champions. In an age when "communities" are growing as face-to-face interaction is declining, audiences are yearning for opportunities to come together and celebrate common experiences. A look at the metered market delivery through the first two weeks of Olympic coverage confirms the strength of local relevance. Local markets have been delivering exceptionally strong ratings, many times outpacing the national average.
To uncover the power of local relevance, TVB mapped TEAM USA's hometowns across America and aligned them with local television DMAs. We then monitored the primetime audience delivery for each market by night. Across the 56 Nielsen metered markets, all but four boast a hometown athlete in this year's Olympic games. To keep the analysis fair, only those markets with athletes competing in primetime coverage were considered a "hometown market" for each night's analysis. The appeal of the Olympics is phenomenal, with metered markets outpacing regular season audience levels (prior non-Olympic 4-week average) by 500% or more. When we add the layer of local relevance, however, we see even greater gains. Hometown markets saw household ratings increase by as much as +960% on some nights of coverage in the first two weeks of the Olympic Games. In addition, television usage grew by an additional +8% in hometown markets across the first 14 nights, peaking at +14.9% on Thursday, August 9th.
Which markets are tuning in to support their hometown heroes? It's not necessarily the number of gold medal winners or large market size driving community support. The table below ranks the Top 10 local markets according to the % increase in household ratings on nights where its hometown athletes are featured versus other nights of Olympic coverage.
As American athletes rise to the occasion, and the medal platform, hometown fans are providing record-breaking viewing support, making Local Broadcast Television an exceptional media platform that drives reach and relevance.
Stacey Lynn Schulman is Chief Research Officer at TVB, where she is responsible for driving insights and media research thought-leadership about the value of Local Broadcast Television across platforms. Stacey can be reached at Stacey@tvb.org.
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