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Eurosport Rips Up Ratings Rule Book Ahead of Winter Olympics

Discovery and Eurosport will shun traditional TV ratings and use a broader metric to gauge the success of its coverage of next year’s PyeongChang Winter Olympics and possibly of programming beyond that, the company said as it unveiled plans for coverage of the event.

Discovery, which owns Eurosport, scooped up European rights to the Summer and Winter Olympics in a $1.4 billion deal inked in 2015. The PyeongChang Games will be the first event covered as part of that agreement, and the 100-day countdown to the Games starts this week.

With all rights in hand, Eurosport has pledged to make PyeongChang the first digital Olympics, teaming up with social platforms, including Snapchat, to increase coverage. In light of that, the company wants to use a broader metric than traditional ratings to gauge its success.

“We look at linear TV ratings as only one component,” JB Perette, president of Discovery Networks International, said at a Eurosport event in London. “We’re redefining television as not just the TV screen but what we’re going to call ‘total video,’ and that will be consumption and engagement across all platforms. And we’ll be rolling out a new metric, which we think is more applicable to the 2018 reality of how people are consuming content.”

Perrette told Variety that although the ratings agencies are evolving to capture engagement across different platforms, they are not there yet. Accordingly, Discovery will use its own data and internal team to capture the “total video” number, and use that during the games. As viewing patterns continue to evolve, and viewership fragments, Eurosport and Discovery will also look to use the metric beyond the Olympic coverage.

The new system is not a currency in the ad sales market, but is a more accurate way to capture numbers as the traditional ratings agencies get up to speed, Perrette said, adding that simply looking at linear numbers and overnights is not good enough. “The reality is that is a prehistoric way of looking at video consumption – we are now at every touch point of where a consumer accesses content, so we had to re-aggregate those.”

Eurosport will generate over 4,000 hours of coverage of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics with all events covered in full on its Eurosport Player. The company gave a first play of its Olympic anthem, a version of rock band Queen’s “I Want it All,” which has been reworked with the London Symphony Orchestra, at the London event.

Discovery is the latest media company to demand a fresh take on ratings. Last month Sky said it was no longer going to use overnights as they did not account for the large numbers of its subscribers watching via streaming or on catch-up, or binge-watching ahead of linear transmission.

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