The Rio Olympics were either a huge ratings success or a massive failure, depending on who’s doing the spinning.
NBC’s headline on a ratings announcement released Sunday highlighted that the Rio Games delivered the second-highest audience total for any non-U.S. Summer Games. On the same day CNN reported that Saturday night was the lowest-rated night of the Rio Games, and added: “NBC’s ratings have underperformed the 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012 games among the 18- to 49-year-old viewers that advertisers pay a premium to reach.”
Ad Age highlights both sides of the argument, reporting that with an average delivery of a 16.2 household rating — figuring in streaming and cable ratings along with the broadcast network — NBC is “underachieving by nearly 2 whole ratings points, or 10%,” but adding: “The Summer Olympics have generated a staggering amount of ad revenue.”
“NBC won’t get out of Rio de Janeiro without handing over a chunk of make-goods to its Olympics advertisers, but if it’s willing to pull back a bit on its self-promotional efforts, the network would appear to have ample opportunities to square its guarantees without taking a financial hit,” Ad Age notes.
The Rio Games appeared to lose momentum over the final weekend. “NBC had a 3.5 rating in the 18-to-49 demo on Saturday, far lower than the 6.2 rating the same night of the London Games had in 2012,” CNN reports.
CNN adds: “There has been a big uptick in Olympics live-streaming this year, but streaming still accounts for a very small amount of overall viewing of the games. The vast majority of viewership has been happening via old-fashioned TV.”
NBC announced Sunday: “With primetime competition completed Saturday night, NBC Olympics’ Total Audience Delivery for the 15 nights of the 2016 Rio Olympics averaged 27.5 million viewers — ranking as the second-highest average audience on record for the primetime competition coverage for any non-domestic Summer Games.”
Total Audience Delivery includes viewing across broadcast, cable and digital.
NBC notes: “The 2016 Rio Olympics is the first in U.S. media history with live primetime Olympic coverage on channels other than the primary broadcast network. It is also the first time that the broadcast network coverage, including primetime, has been streamed simultaneously on digital platforms.”
Ad Age points out that NBC has used the Olympics as a platform to provide a heavy dose of promotion for the network’s upcoming programming.
“According to iSpot.tv, NBC and its cable network siblings have aired no fewer than 3,066 in-house plugs during the first 12 days of Olympics coverage, a promotional blitz that includes 364 primetime spots,” Ad Age notes. “Teasers for programming on the broadcast network alone have aired 1,490 times, of which 231, or 16%, ran in primetime.”