If self-proclaimed “research geek” Alan Wurtzel could create a new Olympic sport, it might very well be called Synchronized Cross-Platform Measurement. In the walkup to the Summer Games in Rio, the president of Research & Media Development at NBCUniversal says the Olympics are a unique opportunity to glimpse the future behavior of viewers.

NBCU has been to the Olympics rodeo before. But as the Games themselves have become more complicated, along with the variety of ways people view them, so has the media company’s ability to track all of this cross-platform content consumption. This year, its efforts will be boosted by its recruitment of TiVo Research and RealityMine for single-sourced, cross-platform viewer measurement.

According to Wurtzel, the reasons why the Olympics are a “research dream” are threefold: the sheer volume of content all across platforms, the huge amount of consumer use and that the spectacle spans 17 days.

“So unlike a big event like the Super Bowl or the Golden Globes, we can see trends take place over those three weeks,” Wurtzel says.

One such trend emerged from NBCU’s coverage of the 2010 Games in Vancouver. “I know this is going to sound crazy now, but what we learned was the rise in apps,” Wurtzel recalls, explaining that back then, people with cell phones were consuming content via website-design interfaces. “But all of a sudden there was this inkling of apps, and it was very clear that apps were going to be the way in which consumers going forward were going to access content,” Wurtzel says.

When he returned from Vancouver, “it was one of our biggest insights and the company wound up saying we better start developing apps,” says Wurtzel.

He has dubbed his Olympics-related research resources the “billion-dollar lab” not because he has $1 billion to spend on research, but because it’s what it cost NBCU for the rights.

“What the billion-dollar lab and all the work around the Olympics does is give us a glimpse of the future,” says Wurtzel.

This interview is part of a series on the future of TV analytics and measurement sponsored by TiVo Research. Please visit this page for additional segments.

The Revolution in TV Measurement and Analytics, presented by Tivo Research