U.S. Olympians own the podium – and the TV

The Winter Olympics have been a success story thus for American athletes.

The performances of Apolo Ohno, Bode Miller and even the previously discounted U.S. men’s hockey team have made the Games a winning story for American sports podium. Many jokes have circulated about Canadians’ pre-Olympic predictions that they would “own the podium” only to see their southern neighbors engage in a fairly one-sided power sharing agreement.

The success of American athletes has also helped NBC’s image problems, beset by a storm of embarrassing publicity over the power grab of Jay Leno to reclaim “The Tonight Show” after his brief foray into prime-time comedy tanked.

And while the network’s viewership may be up, perhaps most surprising is that those watching are still overwhelmingly doing so on television rather than the Internet. Thirty-three million viewers have tuned in to watch the Olympics on NBC’s Web site, an impressive number to be sure. Numbers of people watching on their computers or smart phones has also shot up significantly since the Summer Olympics in Beijing just two years ago.

Television, however, remains in charge – and by a wide margin. Ninety-three percent of NBC’s traffic has been by way of the wireless remote control as opposed to the wireless mouse.

The convergence of media sources and the role of deeply personalized viewing choices is advancing at a rapid pace. Web sites such as Everyday Christian certainly want you, the consumer, to turn online as a primary source of information and entertainment.

The fact of the matter is that change is still an evolving process.

“TV is still king,” Alan Wurtzel, president of research at NBC Universal said on Tuesday. “Multiplatform consumption is emerging and going to become extraordinarily important. But the mothership is — and will remain for a very long time — television.”

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