BBC Sport announce impressive digital viewing figures for PyeongChang Games

The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games has finished, and the next time the Olympic Games will grace our screens will be in a little over two years time when Tokyo comes along in 2020.

Olympic Games are rare events where even those who have no usual interest in sport tune in to watch. Indeed, even those who do love sport but who don’t follow athletics, gymnastics or kayaking suddenly become experts for a few weeks.

The Winter Olympics are the same but in a more extreme way – much like the sports themselves. Winter sports are followed by a much smaller audience – certainly in the UK, which has rarely been a powerhouse for such sports – but when it comes to the Games once every four years, the audience arrives.

Indeed, the BBC’s figures show that they’ve arrived on digital media, too.

This week, the broadcaster announced its impressive viewing figures, specifically on its digital platforms: the Games were streamed 22.2 million times across the BBC Sport website and on BBC iPlayer – an astonishing rise from the previous record of 6.2 million, set at the Sochi Games four years ago.

17.7 million unique browsers arrived on the site across the span of the Games, “on computer (30%), tablet (18%), mobile (47%) and connected TV (5%) in the UK alone – with an average 2.9m unique browsers watching every day,” according to the corporation.

It’s a staggering number, not just in terms of raw figures but in terms of the jump from last time, too.

This is, of course, only one set of figures from one broadcaster (and one with a particularly effective digital media setup) but the fact that there’s been a jump at all is probably to be expected. Two years ago, live-streaming was a standard way of consuming sport, but since the Sochi Games, technology has still definitely moved on, and more people know that it’s an option and are using it.

There may be another explanation as to why the jump was so great though.

Aside from the interest generated in the UK thanks to a rising number of British medallists in winter sports, the time difference is also a potentially significant factor in the way that live-streaming affected people’s viewing habits during the Games.

With the action taking place in some instances late at night or at difficult times during work hours, streaming highlights and live broadcasts were probably more convenient for most viewers. This Olympic Games was always going to be a good test for the current power of live-streaming in the UK simply because of that time difference, and the results are very healthy indeed.

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Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 836 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and editor of Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan_

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