Exclusive: China’s online Olympics audience breaks records

The U.S. Olympic athletes may have won the most gold medals in London, but China is once again clocking the biggest online audience worldwide for an event like this one. 485 million users followed CNTV’s coverage of the games via PCs, mobile and connected devices, according to data the broadcaster shared exclusively with GigaOm.

Even more impressive: CNTV served a total of 610 million streams to mobile phones, tablets and connected devices alone. China’s online video viewing has traditionally been dominated by PC usage, and Internet-connected TVs and set-top boxes are still a rare sight. However, smart phone and tablet ownership is growing quickly. CNTV addressed this new audience with a dedicated premium offering for the 2012 Olympics that was facilitated by U.S. streaming platform provider Neulion.

Some other key metrics provided by CNTV include: CNTV’s website registered 580 million page views and around 35 million unique viewers per day on average during the games. Page views were about 255 percent higher than daily averages before the games, and uniques were up 134 percent. At peak, CNTV clocked 880 million daily page views, and 40 million uniques, which I’ve been told is a historical record for the broadcaster.

How do these numbers compare? NBC (s CMCSK) saw 159 million video streams during the Olympics across all devices, and NBCOlympics.com clocked close to two billion page views for the entirety of the event, according to NBC. The BBC’s website saw 106 million total video views and 12 million mobile video views throughout the games.

CNTV’s Neulion partnership wasn’t the only way to view video of the games within China. The broadcaster also streamed video on its own site as well as through its CBOX P2P client, set-top boxes and connected devices. It also piped video to Sina, Sohu, Tencent and Netease in an effort that’s been called “one cloud, multiple screens.”