RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
And an estimated one billion people around the world tuned into opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. NBC offered Americans a tape delayed broadcast so it could target a more lucrative primetime audience, but NBC's big challenge is figuring out to measure for advertisers who's watching and when. NPR's Richard Gonzales has more.
RICHARD GONZALES: The Nielson overnight ratings estimates that nearly 17 million American households tuned into the tape-delayed opening ceremonies in Beijing. That's 19 percent higher than the 2004 Athens games. Still, viewers have a variety of ways to keep track of the action, whether it's online, on a mobile device, or on the TV set at home or maybe in a bar.
Mr. BRIAN STEINBERG (Advertising Age Magazine): There is no standardized measuring system for measuring everybody.
GONZALES: That's Brian Steinberg, television editor for Advertising Age magazine. As technology offers new ways to view content, he says high-profile events such as the Olympics puts audience-measurement tools to the test.
Mr. STEINBERG: A person who watches gymnastics online or at a bar isn't the same kind of viewer as watching on a big-screen TV at home.
GONZALES: Steinberg says the challenge is for NBC to gauge a more diffuse audience. If it can't guarantee a certain number of viewers, then it may have to offer the advertisers more ad time or, in an extreme case, refund an advertiser's money.
Mr. STEINBERG: No one likes that. Advertisers want to make sure that their message reached the people they wanted to reach, and they want certain guarantees. So you want to make sure that you're connecting with who you're supposed to.
GONZALES: Bottom line, says Steinberg: NBC has to prove to advertisers that in uncertain economic times they're getting their money's worth. Richard Gonzales, NPR News.