NBC’s Rio Olympics Is the Most Successful Media Event in History

Aug 23, 2016  •  Post A Comment

Press release from NBC, Aug. 22, 2016:

NBC Olympics’ exclusive and unprecedented coverage of the 2016 Rio Olympics was the most ambitious media event in history, providing more ways to consume more hours of content across more platforms than any Olympics ever… and Rio 2016 dominated the competition.

NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus: “As the headline says, Rio was the most successful event in media history. This is my third Olympics in this role, and each one of them has been a learning experience. Rio is no different. Our planning, production and presentation of the Rio Games, across broadcast on NBC, our many cable outlets, our streaming on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app and our massive social media outreach is the most impressive undertaking I’ve seen in the media world. As a company, across Comcast and NBCUniversal, Rio has been another proud achievement among a list of many. This is the most ambitious task in the media business, and our team of thousands scattered among Rio (2,000-plus), Stamford (more than 1,000), Orlando and Hialeah all deserve a Gold Medal.”

  • The networks and digital platforms of NBCUniversal presented an unprecedented 6,755 hours of programming for the Games of the XXXI Olympiad. NBCU presented 2,084 hours of Olympic linear programming across 11 networks: broadcast networks NBC and TELEMUNDO (Spanish language); cable channels Bravo, CNBC, Golf Channel, MSNBC, NBC Sports Network (NBCSN), NBC UNIVERSO (Spanish language), and USA Network; plus two specialty channels, one each for basketball and soccer. Powered by Playmaker Media, NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app live streamed 4,500 total hours — including all Olympic competition for the third consecutive Olympics — for authenticated pay TV subscribers via TV Everywhere to desktops, mobile devices, and tablets, plus connected TVs for the first time. NBC Olympics also provided 4K Ultra HD content to NBCU distribution partners, as well as Virtual Reality (VR) programming, both Olympic firsts.

NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus: “The number of excellent on-air people who work for us regularly and on Olympic coverage is unequaled. Between our award-winning talent and all of the other announcers, reporters, and commentators who join us just for the Games, they did a tremendous job with insight, interviews and information. Coupled with our exceptional production team, we presented the American audience with pictures and stories that they will long remember. The athletic performances were again amazing – Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel, the Brazilian Men’s Soccer Team, Team USA as a whole with its medal dominance, Mo Farah, Inbee Park, Justin Rose, Kohei Uchimura… and the list goes on.”

On the middle Sunday of Rio 2016, the collection of stars was captivating, and featured:

  • Usain Bolt’s historic victory in the 100 meters, marking an unprecedented third consecutive gold medal in the event
  • Bob Costas’ visit with Bolt in Jamaica
  • Simone Biles winning her third gold medal in Rio (in the vault)
  • Michael Phelps’ in-studio interview with Costas
  • Cris Collinsworth’s candid discussion with 100-meter silver medalist Justin Gatlin
  • Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross winning a thrilling quarterfinal in beach volleyball
  • A feature on 400-meter gold medalist Wayde van Niekerk
  • Allyson Felix-led Team USA qualifying for the women’s 400m final

NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus: “The audience for these Games was enormous, encompassing almost 200 million Americans overall on television alone, not to mention those engaged on our other platforms. NBC’s primetime broadcasts were again the dominant form of consumption for Americans, accounting for about 95% of all of the primetime audience. But by putting events – for the first time ever in primetime–on NBCSN, Bravo, and at times USA Network, as well as streaming primetime in pattern, we learned a lot about consumption habits and attracted new audiences. We’ll use all of the data from all of our platforms to develop our plans for PyeongChang in 2018 and Tokyo in 2020.”

  • 78% of U.S. TV homes tuned into NBC Olympics’ Rio Games coverage – which had a TV-only audience of 198 million viewers, according to national data provided by The Nielsen Company.
  • NBC Olympics’ coverage of the 15 nights of primetime competition (Sat. Aug. 6 – Sat. Aug. 20) registered a Total Audience Delivery average of 27.5 million viewers – ranking Rio 2016 as the second-highest average audience on record for the competition for any non-domestic Summer Games.

Summer Games       Total Audience Delivery           Network

2012 London Olympics                30.3 million viewers  NBC

2016 Rio Olympics    27.5 million viewers  NBC

2008 Beijing Olympics                27.2 million viewers  NBC

1992 Barcelona Olympics           26.4 million viewers  NBC

1988 Seoul Olympics                  25.8 million viewers  NBC

2004 Athens Olympics                24.9 million viewers  NBC

2000 Sydney Olympics               21.5 million viewers  NBC

  • NBC Olympics’ Total Audience Delivery provided a 7% lift over the NBC-only audience on competition nights (chart below). NBC Olympics’ Total Audience Delivery measured broader Rio Olympics consumption by calculating average minute viewing across broadcast, cable, and digital. 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. The NBC-only 17 primetime nights of Rio 2016 averaged 25.4 million viewers with a 14.4/26 household rating.

Date          Total Audience Delivery           NBC-only viewership               TAD Lift

Sat. 8/6      23.5 million                 20.6 million                 14%

Sun. 8/7     31.8 million                 29.8 million                 7%

Mon. 8/8    31.5 million                 28.9 million                 9%

Tues. 8/9   36.1 million                 33.4 million                 8%

Wed. 8/10 28.6 million                 26.4 million                 8%

Thur. 8/11 33.0 million                 31.2 million                 6%

Fri. 8/12    26.0 million                 24.0 million                 8%

Sat. 8/13    26.8 million                 25.5 million                 5%

Sun. 8/14   28.1 million                 26.7 million                 5%

Mon. 8/15  25.5 million                 24.2 million                 5%

Tues. 8/16 25.6 million                 24.1 million                 6%

Wed. 8/17 22.1 million                 20.7 million                 7%

Thurs. 8/18 22.9 million               21.7 million                 6%

Fri. 8/19    21.1 million                 20.0 million                 6%

Sat. 8/20    16.3 million                 15.4 million                 6%

Average    27.5 million                 25.8 million                 7%

  • In the 15 days from the Opening Ceremony through Fri, Aug. 19, the NBC-only average primetime viewership (26.2 million viewers) and household rating (14.8) have respective 249% and 196% advantages over ABC, CBS and FOX combined – the second-largest Games advantage on record (behind only the London Olympics) (full 17-night comparison data will be available on Tuesday).
  • NBCSN, the home of Team USA, was the No. 1 sports cable network in primetime over the 14 days it presented live extended primetime Rio 2016 coverage (7 p.m.-midnight ET). From Saturday, Aug. 6 – Friday, Aug. 19, the network averaged 1.32 million viewers for its extended primetime coverage, also accounting for the best 14-day primetime stretch in the network’s history.
  • Golf Channel, which set a record for most live coverage ever for a women’s golf event (34.5 hours), posted significant increases for average viewership compared to the same time periods opposite the 2012 London Games: Men’s Competition: +881%, 579,000 average viewership, Aug 11-14; Women’s Competition: +188%, 274,000 average viewership, Aug 17-20. NBC and Golf Channel both provided coverage of the dramatic closing holes of the men’s competition on Sunday, Aug. 14 (1:12-2:49 p.m.). Aside from the final round of the Masters, this ranks as the highest-rated 90-minute window of final round golf coverage in 2016 with a combined 5.6 household rating and 8.8 million average viewers.
  • Telemundo and NBC UNIVERSO’s coverage of the Rio Olympics reached 16.6 million viewers and eight million adults 18-49.

NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus: “We dominated social media conversation across many platforms as well, reaching millennials in huge numbers – we’ll have more on those numbers soon. Our challenge ahead is to continue to engage them and connect them to the Olympics, while also continuing to connect them to our advertising partners. All of our advertisers leave Rio satisfied, thanks to excellent planning and efforts of our sales team. The Olympics are the only event of its kind, dominating primetime for 17 straight nights, 118 Summer Olympic nights in a row. Here in Rio, in the 18-49 demo, we beat the COMBINED total of the other 3 broadcast networks by more than four times – the largest gap of its kind in viewing measurement history. Some nights it was five times the competition, just extraordinary dominance.”

  • NBC’s primetime Rio Olympics broadcast has been primetime television’s most-watched show of the night by far every night – marking 118 consecutive nights that an NBC Summer Olympics presentation has topped primetime. NBC’s primetime Summer Games has won 134 of 135 nights in People Meter history.
  • Among Adults 18-49, NBC’s 15-night (Opening Ceremony through Fri., Aug. 19) primetime rating in the demographic (7.5) more than quadruples (341% above) the other broadcast networks combined (1.7 on ABC, CBS and FOX) – the largest advantage in the first 15 days of any Olympics on record (full 17-night comparison data will be available on Tuesday).
  • Reaching the millennial audience, NBC’s 15-night (Opening Ceremony through Fri., Aug. 19) primetime rating in the Adults 18-34 demographic (5.5) is five times greater than (400% above) the other broadcast networks combined (1.1 on ABC, CBS and FOX) – the largest advantage in the first 15 days of any Olympics on record (full 17-night comparison data will be available on Tuesday).
  • NEARLY 5 TIMES as many people in the 18-34 demo watched the Rio Olympics on NBC in primetime than watch primetime TV regularly. Rio Olympics primetime viewership in the Adult 18-34 demo (5.3 rating for all 17 primetime NBC nights) was nearly five times greater (382% higher) than the average of the four broadcast networks (1.1 for NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX) for the 2015-16 TV season.
  • More than 50% of viewers live streaming Olympic events on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app were under 35 years old

NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus: “The Olympics are a benefit not only to NBC Sports Group, but to many other facets of Comcast and NBCUniversal. Comcast’s rollout of the X1 platform with these Olympics was a huge success, and has given its customers new ways of experiencing the Games. On NBC, Nightly News with Lester Holt, TODAY and Access Hollywood – all of which were on location here in Rio – enjoyed huge boosts in viewership and gains across all key demos. Superstore on Friday night was the most-watched Friday night comedy on any network in more than a decade, while The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and The Voice enjoyed lead-ins from the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, respectively. We were able to promote many new and returning shows on NBC and our cable networks. We promoted Jason Bourne and the upcoming Sing among other movies, as well as our Universal Theme Parks. Our local affiliate stations, and our owned-and-operated stations, saw their late local news and early fringe numbers jump in a big way. The Games benefit every part of our company.”

  • TODAY was the #1 ranked morning show for both weeks of the Rio Olympics and in the Adult 18-34 demo beat the combined total of its competitors. Viewership in the Adult 18-34 demographic increased 71% from the week prior to the Games.
  • NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt was the #1 evening news program for both weeks of the Rio Games, with viewership in the Adult 18-34 demo up 86% from the week before the Games.
  • Access Hollywood viewership during Rio 2016 nearly tripled 18-49 viewership vs. the prior month.
  • Late local newscasts (Mon-Fri) on NBC affiliates in the 56 metered markets posted a collective 69% increase in household rating over July, and matched the combined delivery of ABC and CBS late local newscasts during the Olympics (August 8 – August 19).
  • Viewership for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, which followed the Opening Ceremony, jumped 72% from its summer average in the 18-49 demographic, while a special episode of The Voice after the Closing Ceremony was up 238% in the demo from NBC’s summer entertainment average in that time slot.
  • The special Friday, Aug. 19 primetime Superstore averaged 9.7 million viewers – ranking as the most-watched Friday comedy telecast on any network since 2004.

NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus: “Our streaming on the NBC Sports app and on NBCOlympics.com, powered by our Playmaker Media platform, was the largest streamed event in history, surpassing the previous highs for any event. Our end result will be well over 3 BILLION minutes streamed, shattering anything previously in the category. We monetized our streaming at a very high level, and will continue to develop more ways to monetize this ever-growing method of consumption. Probably our biggest surprise in the consumption metrics was that more than 1/3 of those who streamed coverage did so from connected TV devices – meaning those people were in front of their TV’s watching the Olympics, but in a different way. The final numbers are not in yet, but we already know that the Rio Olympics will be the most profitable Olympics ever for our company.”

NBC Olympics’ live streaming for Rio 2016 established a new standard for event coverage.

  • Across NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app, there was a record 3.3 Billion total streaming minutes (Live + Full Event Replays + Highlights).
  • Viewers live streamed 2.71 Billion minutes of Olympic coverage – a new record for event coverage. The 2.71 Billion live minutes nearly doubles the COMBINED live streamed minutes of ALL prior Games (1.48 Billion).
  • NBC Olympics digital coverage amassed 100 Million unique users – 29% more than the 2012 London Olympics.


Day           Rio 2016   London 2012*           Rio 2016   London 2012*

1st Sat        23.5 million 28.7 million              13.1 rating 15.8 rating

1st Sun       31.8 million                 36.0 million                 17.3 rating 19.8 rating

1st Mon      31.5 million                 31.6 million 18.1 rating 18.0 rating

1st Tues     36.1 million                 38.7 million                 20.5 rating 21.8 rating

1st Wed     28.6 million                 30.8 million                 16.5 rating 17.9 rating

1st Thurs   33.0 million                 36.8 million                 18.9 rating 21.1 rating

1st Fri        26.0 million                 28.5 million                 15.0 rating 16.2 rating

Mid. Sat    26.8 million                 28.0 million                 15.0 rating 15.9 rating

Mid. Sun   28.1 million                 31.3 million                 15.8 rating 17.5 rating

2nd Mon     25.5 million                 26.6 million                 14.9 rating 15.8 rating

2nd Tues    25.6 million                 30.1 million                 15.2 rating 17.6 rating

2nd Wed    22.1 million                 29.1 million                 13.3 rating 16.8 rating

2nd Thurs  22.9 million                 22.9 million                 13.6 rating 13.6 rating

2nd Fri       21.1 million                 22.5 million                 12.3 rating 13.2 rating

Final Sat   16.3 million                 21.8 million                 9.6 rating   12.6 rating

*NOTE: The 2012 London Olympics had no simultaneous live streaming and no competing primetime Olympic cable coverage.


  1. Salt Lake City 20.4/39
  2. Denver 19.1/38
  3. Indianapolis 18.1/31
  4. Austin 18.0/33
  5. Columbus 17.8/31
  6. West Palm Beach 17.5/29

T7. San Diego            17.2/34

T7. Richmond            17.2/28

T9. Minneapolis         17.0/33

T9. St. Louis               17.0/29

T9. Fort Myers 17.0/28

T9. Norfolk                 17.0/27

  1. Washington D.C. 16.9/32
  2. Kansas City 16.4/28
  3. Nashville 16.3/25
  4. Sacramento 16.2/31
  5. Houston 16.1/28
  6. Cincinnati 16.0/28

T19. Albuquerque       15.9/28

T19. Buffalo                15.9/27

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