Musical.ly, the lip-synching video app with 60 million users, generated more than 10 million engagements during the first weekend of the Winter Olympics with broadcasts from social influencers Nia Sioux (@niasioux) and Ross Smith (@rosssmith) and the NBC Olympics channel (@nbcolympics), according to a news release. Muscial.ly partnered with NBC Sports Group to provide new ways for fans to experience the games, which opened last week in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
NBC Olympics is feeding content daily to Musical.ly users, such as event highlights, behind-the-scenes footage and GIFs. Musical.ly is also urging users to engage in the Olympics experience using two in-app hashtag challenges created with NBC and U.S. athletes such as skier Mikaela Shiffrin, figure skater Nathan Chen and snowboarder Chloe Kim.
Mobile streaming platforms are helping to lift viewership of the Olympics, according to Nielsen and Adobe Analytics. NBC's Tuesday prime-time coverage of the games that showed snowboarder Shaun White winning a third gold medal had 21.5 million viewers on NBC, and an additional 1.1 million on cable and digital platforms, per Adweek.
Musical.ly's reported 10 million engagements during the first weekend of the Olympics hints at mobile media's growing importance in covering live sporting events, although it's unclear how that engagement translates into viewership or time spent with the app. In other words, it's hard to compare 10 million engagements over a weekend to the 21.5 million viewers that NBC had on a single night. Musical.ly has grown rapidly in popularity, particularly with U.S. teens, who are notoriously hard for advertisers to reach and are also watching traditional TV broadcasts less.
The Nielsen and Adobe Analytics figures, combined with the Musical.ly results, serve as a miniature snapshot of the shifting landscape of media consumption, where traditional linear viewing commands less attention as more internet users stream games and other events and look to alternative-but-related entertainment channels such as mobile apps. NBCUniversal also partnered again with Snapchat — another app seen as a haven for young audiences like Gen Z and millennials — for the Winter Games to deliver Olympics-related content
Mobile is an increasingly crucial channel for traditional broadcast and cable networks looking to expand their reach, especially as consumers abandon bloated cable packages for a broadband connection and leaner offerings from streaming services like Hulu, YouTube TV and Dish Network's Sling TV. NBC needs to find ways to boost viewership after buying the rights to the Olympics through 2032 as part of a $7.65 billion agreement. The network has the rights to air six games, or an average of $1.27 billion each, which is a 16% rise from the previous $4.38 billion deal that gave NBC four games, or $1.09 billion per Olympics.