Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

How Jessie J Won the Olympics

More data in the wake of the London Olympics, this time from Google.

The search giant has some fun if not totally surprising factoids about search: Americans spent a lot of time Googling Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte; Brits looked for Usain Bolt and Jessica Ennis; the volume of gymnastics searches was nearly double that of the Beijing games, etc.

One performer who saw a big Google spike that may surprise you: British singer Jessie J, who got to sing (?) three numbers during the closing ceremonies, generated more than any other artist.* Number two: Beady Eye, who Google tells me is made up of Oasis remnants. Who knew?

You want stats about digital business? Alas, less here than you would like. Google, which powered NBC’s video streams via YouTube, more or less repeats NBC’s stats, though it says it will have more to say about its non-NBC streams in a bit.

Google does say, however, that research shows that lots of people watched the games online, quite often in addition to watching it on TV. Good fodder here for the burgeoning “second screen” industry:

More than ever, people experienced the Games not just via the TV broadcast, but on desktops, mobile phones and tablets. Through research panels conducted in partnership with NBC in the U.S., we learned a bit more about how played out:
Mobile makes a strong showing: Many viewers turned to one or more “second screens” beyond TV to keep updated on the Olympics—nearly half of those who did (44 percent) did so via a mobile phone or tablet.
Power viewers: Second-screen viewing didn’t seem to diminish participants’ interest in watching the games on TV…in fact, it increased it. People who followed the Games on TV plus one other screen watched 52 percent more Olympics on TV than those who didn’t; people who followed on two additional screens spent more than twice as much time (105 percent) with TV. And people who watched live streams of events online watched 66 percent more Olympics on television than people who followed exclusively on TV.
Synchronized usage: Overall, nearly 56 percent of people who followed the Games on TV and at least one other screen did so simultaneously. These simultaneous viewers also watched TV for 67 percent longer than those who only watched TV.

*Best Jessie J summary I’ve read (Disclosure: This is the only thing I’ve read about Jessie J) comes from the excellent Maura Johnston.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald