A new report offers an explanation for the downturn in NBC’s Olympics ratings since London four years ago, and the explanation is more about how TV viewing is changing than about the Olympics themselves.
The Los Angeles Times notes that NBC averaged 27.8 million viewers through the first 10 nights of the Games — still three times the total that ABC,CBS and Fox are delivering combined, but off 17% from the 2012 Olympics.
“With more competition airing live in prime time, NBC counted on the Rio Games’ ratings to be as good or better than London, the most-watched Olympics held outside of the U.S.,” the Times reports.
The report adds: “But while the relative ratings strength of the coverage remains formidable, the seismic shift toward online viewing has kept the Nielsen numbers from being as big as NBC hoped.”
NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus is quoted in the story calling the Rio Games “the most economically successful” in history, noting that the coverage on on NBCUniversal’s cable networks and on NBC’s online streaming app are a part of the overall picture.
Says Lzarus: “NBC’s broadcast is not the only way people are consuming the Olympics. Just like the way newspapers and magazines are not only consumed in print.”
The report adds: “Through Sunday, online users have streamed 1.86 billion minutes of NBC’s Rio 2016 coverage, topping the combined number for London and Sochi, Russia. The network is making videos of every Olympic event available on its app and it is streaming its prime-time coverage of the Games for the first time.”
Meanwhile, NBC is also running Olympics action in prime time on NBCSN and Bravo, so the audience is far more spread out than it would have been in the past.