The Rio Olympics captured Canadians’ imaginations this summer generating very strong audiences for sponsors and advertisers on TV, digital and social channels according to SRG’s Sports Marketing Report – Rio Olympics Edition being released today, based on 1,000 interviews conducted in late August.2016_Summer_Olympics_logo.svg

Eight-in-ten Canadians (79%) nationally said they followed at least some of the Olympics on TV or via online or mobile sources. This is a higher level than London in 2012 (76%) or Beijing in 2008 (74%).  It is also higher than last year’s marquee events where six-in-ten (60%) followed at least some of the Pan Am games and the 50% who said they followed at least some of FIFA Women’s World Cup according to SRG surveys.

Audience engagement with Rio was also higher: the proportion saying they followed it somewhat or very closely was 51% for Rio, a level higher than 2012 and 2008 Olympics and as well last summer’s events.

Those who thought the games were more interesting and engaging mainly attributed this to better Canadian performances, with Canadians finishing in the top ten even if they did not medal, and significant breakthroughs in swimming and track and field.

A favourable time zone also helped maximize live viewing and added excitement according to respondent comments.

VISA, Coca-Cola, RBC, McDonald’s and Bell were the five top sponsors/advertisers in unaided recall for Rio Olympics. In particular, one-in-three (32%) of those following the games said they noticed VISA on an unaided basis.

Canadian brands fared well in terms of share of voice: five of the top 10 advertisers/sponsors mentioned were Canadian brands (RBC, Bell, Canadian Tire, Petro Canada and Tim Horton’s). In comparison, only 4 of the Top 10 sponsors/advertiser mentions for Pan Am Games were Canadian and only 1 Canadian brand made it to the FIFA World Cup sponsors/advertisers mentions last summer.

Among other notable findings of the research:

  • TV was king for the Olympics on a total audience basis (12+) with 86% of those who followed the event using it, compared to 52% following via digital/social channels. But there were some interesting variations…
    • In the Millennial 18-34 demo, TV and social/digital channels were nearly head-to-head in terms of how the audience followed the action: 74% used TV while social/digital channels were used by 71%
    • On the other extreme, Boomers 50+ didn’t care much about social/digital channels and were all over TV: 34% used social/digital channels to follow while 95% used TV
    • Social/digital channels took a commanding lead among TV cord-cutters: they were used by 81% compared to 62% following via traditional TV (e.g., either in home via CBC OTA or in public places).
  • One-in-four (23%) used at least one social media channel to connect with athletes or teams: 14% of those following the games connected with teams/athletes on Facebook, followed by Twitter (8%), Instagram (6%) and Snapchat (3%).
  • Top 10 sports followed in order were: Swimming, Track & Field, Gymnastics, Diving, Soccer, Beach Volleyball, Volleyball, Basketball, Tennis and Rowing.
  • CBC received a stellar grade on the overall job they did, averaging an ‘A.’ 59% of those following the games gave the CBC an A+/A and 20% gave it a B+. (This was better than SRG’s 2008 benchmark, last time CBC was the national broadcaster for the Olympics. At that time, 51% gave the broadcaster an A+ or an A)
  • New Canadians were avid followers of the Olympics with 84% following at least some of the action (higher than the national average of 79%).

Technical: SRG’s Sports Marketing Report – Rio Olympics Edition is based on interviews with 1,000 Canadians nationally in late August 2016. Respondents who followed the Rio Olympics very/somewhat closely were asked which sponsors/advertisers they noticed on TV, online or mobile for each on an unprompted, unaided basis. The responses were used to determine the unaided recall rankings. Sports Marketing Report was launched by SRG in 2015 and consists of a series of independent syndicated research studies providing an objective and comparative perspective on sports event audiences and sponsors’ return on investment for sports events. For more information, please contact: