NEW YORK: US media giant NBC Universal has announced the launch of  its biggest-ever research effort during its Beijing Olympic Games coverage, measuring viewing across television, VOD, the web and cellphones.

The company is using the event to test its Total Audience Measurement Index, which it hopes will persuade advertisers to invest their marketing dollars in other media to supplement traditional TV commercials at the start of the fall broadcasting season.

It will offer data garnered not only from TV audience measurement leader Nielsen Media Research, but also from specialists such as research company Rentrak, online measurement firm Quantcast and web analytics firm Omniture.

This, claims the broadcaster, will provide a bigger picture of how viewers keep track of the Olympic extravaganza.

Also critical to data validation is a daily survey of 500 people to uncover out-of-home consumption and individual media habits.

Additionally, a single-source panel of 40-50 people will wear a measurement device provided by Integrated Media Measurement to track their exposure to the Games; and NBC will ask two focus groups about the range of platforms.

Says research chief Alan Wurtzel: "Olympics is a singular event because of its scale and because of the number of people who will consume it over 17 days, so it will magnify the use of every platform.

"We had to figure out how to measure ourselves across all platforms."

He adds: "We charged a lot of money for these Games, and a pretty big premium, and we believe our advertisers deserve some sort of an empirical measure of their return on investment, and hopefully some learning as to how effective the cross-platform marketing was."

  • Meantime, NBC, with private equity partners Bain Capital and Blackstone Group, has inked a deal to acquire the Weather Channel and its associated websites. 

    The hugely popular US cable TV station was put up for sale by privately-held Landmark Communications at the beginning of the year. It has over 96 million US subscribers, and is available in over 97% of all cable TV homes across the US.

    Financial details of the agreement have not been released but it is thought unlikely that Landmark will have achieved the $5 billion (€3.16bn; £2.52bn) it sought when the channel initially went under the hammer. A final price tag of around $3.5bn has been widely touted.

  • Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staf