TV Still Reigns: Facebook Inc Basketball Viewer Data

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Last month Facebook streamed nine USA Basketball exhibition games in the run-up to the start of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. They did not get much viewership, at least by traditional TV standards, according to Re/code. Over nine games, the NBA streams received around 7 million views overall, according to the viewership data for the nine games released by the NBA on Wednesday.

More viewership than Facebook

The nine games data released by the NBA included four women’s contests and five from the USA men’s team. For the total 7 million views the games received, a single view means a user tuned in while the game was live and stayed for at least three seconds. The most popular game was the men’s game against China on July 24, which generated around 1.6 million views.

It should be noted that this is different than actual viewers, says the report. A spokesperson said the NBA streamed the basketball games, which were produced and simulcast on NBA TV, from two different Facebook Pages, and there is no way to find out repeat viewers. Hence, we do know that people watched, but we do not actually know how many unique viewers there were, says Re/code.

The question is how that compares with the viewership for TV or other digital streams. Facebook and NBA TV broadcast the same games, and NBA TV reported 321,000 viewers at any given time over the five men’s games. By using the same metric, we see that regular season NBA games on the network averaged 345,000 viewers last season, a record high. Hence, it is probably safe to assume that the television broadcast of NBA TV added up to a much bigger audience than what Facebook pulled.

Measuring online audience still quite hard

When Yahoo streamed a regular season NFL game from London last year, it got 15 million total viewers. However, that included viewers who just visited the Yahoo homepage where the stream was auto-playing. Therefore, that was an inflated number.

The issue is that there is no standard audience measurement for these new types of digital streams, and this makes them difficult to compare. In turn, it makes them even more difficult to sell to advertisers used to spending money on traditional TV. Nevertheless, the games still generated millions of views, which is a great news that demonstrates the future potential for Facebook and other social platforms.

On Wednesday, Facebook shares closed down 0.47% at $122.51. Year to date, the stock is up more than 15%, while in the last year, it is up more than 30%.

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