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The Beijing Olympics online, at work

August 13, 2008 |  4:08 pm
Gao Jian, China's head gymnastics coach

It's a match made in TV network heaven: work and watching the Olympics.

The numbers are proving it out. Nielsen Online reports today that on Monday, the first full workday that coincided with sporting events at the Beijing Olympics, online traffic to Olympics-related websites soared.

More than 2 million people visited the video portion of NBCOlympics.com, up nearly 140% from Sunday, when 858,000 went there (of course, it's rarely OK to watch TV at work, but surfing the Web, well ... just curb the muttering and cheering). As many have discovered, trying to watch video of Olympic events on unauthorized sites can be a frustrating exercise.

Meanwhile, online traffic to Yahoo's Olympics site shot up 86% to 5.2 million compared with Sunday's online audience of 2.8 million. NBCOlympics.com's online traffic (not just people who visited the site to watch video) was up nearly 40% to 4.6 million compared with Sunday's online audience of 3.3 million.

Yes, Yahoo is doing better than NBC, even though it has more video footage.

With the Beijing Olympics attracting the biggest U.S. Olympics-watching TV audience ever, it's time for NBC to rethink why it's not showing many the events live online, says Silicon Alley Insider. The online coverage is only adding to the buzz, not cannibalizing the TV experience.

Another argument is that the limited online experience is only creating pent-up excitement and driving more people to their TVs. Surf the Web all day at work and decide what you want to watch that night on TV.

It's doubtful NBC would reverse itself during these games to try out a premise.

But future Olympics may prove different.

-- Michelle Quinn

Photo of Gao Jian, China's head gymnastics coach, after the team won a gold medal. CSPA / US Presswire

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