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NBCUniversal Wants to Track Your Olympic Viewing Behavior

December 14, 2015, 3:14 PM UTC

Viral sensation: Michelle Jenneke

If you've never heard of Australian hurdler Michelle Jenneke, the only possible explanation is that you do not use the Internet. In July, a video of Jenneke doing her own special warm-up routine before a heat at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona went viral; it has 20 million views and counting. Jenneke, only 19, did not go to the London Olympics but won a silver medal at the Singapore Youth Olympics in 2010 and is currently the third fastest Australian woman in the 100m hurdles. Now, thanks to the video, you must prepare for her inevitable TV stardom. In August, Jenneke signed with Six Sides Management, a sports marketing power in Australia that works with swimming gold medalist Melanie Schlanger, among others. Her new manager there is Damian Triffitt, who tells Fortune, "Obviously we're looking at endorsements. She loves the U.S., so we want to set up some TV commercials there. Something like a Hewlett Packard would be right up our alley." For now, Jenneke doesn't have a packed binder: her active deals are with Body Science, a nutrition and compression company in Australia (she is designing her own workout outfit with them) and a product-only deal with Oakley. But look for Jenneke to begin appearing on your TV soon—it's pretty easy to see her becoming, for example, the next GoDaddy girl. And although her management would not confirm, a reliable source tells Fortune that a Nike deal is on the way. Triffitt says more is to come: "We have big stuff coming out in February in the U.S. It will make all these online videos look like a four-year-old's play. If you talk to me again about endorsements after February, it will be a very different story."
Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

As TV-viewing behavior becomes increasingly fragmented, thanks to cord cutting and the rise of mobile, figuring out who watches your programs and when has gotten increasingly difficult for broadcasters. And when you pay billions of dollars for the right to broadcast certain events—as NBCUniversal has done for the Olympics—that becomes a significant issue.

In an attempt to solve that problem, the Comcast-owned network announced on Monday that it is partnering with Tivo and a content-analytics company called RealityMine to try and come up with comprehensive data about who watches Olympic programming, when they watch it, and where.

Although it is known primarily for its set-top video recorder, Tivo Inc. also has a research arm that partners with cable companies and satellite providers to track viewer behavior. RealityMine—which announced a $17.2-million financing on Monday—measures TV viewing activity across multiple platforms, such as smartphones and tablets.

Knowing what people are watching and when could help NBCUniversal determine what Olympic programming to broadcast at what specific times during the Summer Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro next year. The broadcast network paid $7.65 billion for exclusive rights to the Olympics until 2032.

Broadcasters such as NBCUniversal are creating partnerships with providers like Tivo and RealityMine in part because they say they aren’t getting the data they need about new digital behavior from traditional analytics partners such as Nielsen and comScore.

Nielsen has been trying to catch up, however. The company recently released a comprehensive report looking at video-viewing behavior across multiple platforms and found that for millennial audiences, smartphones and other mobile devices have become the primary method of consumption, replacing traditional broadcast television.

You can follow Mathew Ingram on Twitter at @mathewi, and read all of his posts here or via his RSS feed. And please subscribe to Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the business of technology.