SBD/August 7, 2012/Olympics

Usain Bolt's Win In 100 Meters Continues NBC's Strong Primetime Ratings

NBC is averaging an 18.8 final rating and 33.6 million viewers through the first 10 nights of taped primetime coverage from the London Games, up 9% and 12%, respectively, from a 17.3 rating and 29.9 million viewers during the same period during the '08 Beijing Games. Sunday night’s coverage from 7:30-11:29pm ET, highlighted by Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt winning his second consecutive Gold Medal in the 100 meters, finished with a 17.5 rating and 31.3 million viewers. Sunday night marked the seventh night during the London Games to average over 30 million viewers, equaling the combined total from Beijing and ’04 Athens Games. NBC’s Sunday night average was up 9% and 15%, respectively, from a 16.0 rating and 27.2 million viewers during the comparable night in Beijing (NBC). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes it should not "come as a surprise to the other networks, but with NBC averaging NFL playoff-like numbers for its Olympic prime time and dispersing Olympic TV tonnage all day everyday on its various channels, ratings for other sports are being nicked" (USA TODAY, 8/7).

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CASE OF THE MONDAYS: NBC earned a 17.5 overnight Nielsen rating for last night's primetime Olympic coverage, down 7% from an 18.9 overnight for the comparable night four years ago. The 11th night of Olympics coverage featured Gold Medal finals for men's and women's individual gymnastics events, as well as Gold Medal finals for men's track events. If the percentage decrease holds when final numbers are released later today, the decline would mark only the second time during these London Games that NBC has seen a night-over-night ratings drop compared to Beijing (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

COMBINATION PLATTER WANTED: USA TODAY's Hiestand reports only 12% of respondents in a national Gallup Daily tracking survey would "handle the broadcast the way NBC is doing it" -- airing marquee events taped in primetime. Seventeen percent would prefer "having results broadcast live during the day instead of on tape delay at night." However, 59% of respondents "want both: live during the day and tape delayed at night." Twelve percent had no opinion. The survey done by phone with 1,082 U.S. adults from Aug. 4-5 and contains a 4% margin of error (USA TODAY, 8/7). Meanwhile, IOC Communications Dir Mark Adams yesterday "deflected criticism aimed at NBC" over the net not showing Bolt's win in the 100 meters live. Adams said, "It’s certainly not for us to tell them how to reach their audience. If you wanted live, you could get it live.” The AP's Graham Dunbar noted other track and field finals "shown later" by NBC included the women’s 400-meters, which the U.S.' Sanya Richards-Ross won. Richards-Ross at a news conference Sunday night said that the broadcast coverage at home was “a little disappointing” (AP, 8/6). BROADCASTING & CABLE's Ben Grossman writes, "NBC boldly, and correctly, has found the right balance between online and television -- the hybrid model that studios and networks have to be pursuing to position themselves for the future without killing the golden goose." NBC’s Olympics strategy "may not be popular on Twitter, but it will be on Wall Street" (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 8/6 issue).

ADVERTISERS FANS OF TAPE DELAY: AD AGE's Jason Del Ray wrote NBC's tape-delay strategy "is essential" for advertisers. ID Media agency Exec VP & Chief Media Investment Officer Rob Bochicchio said, "It all has to funnel into prime time. No matter what people say, they aren't going to stop working to watch the gymnastics final at 1 p.m." Del Ray noted advertisers are "still waiting to see how much of a drop-off will come in week two, which typically loses momentum as swimming and gymnastics are replaced by track-and-field events and basketball finals" (, 8/5). Meanwhile, Mediatech Capital Partners Managing Partner Porter Bibb noted “the biggest advertiser” during the Games is NBC, as “every third or fourth commercial is promoting an NBC series that’s going to be breaking this fall.” Bibb noted the investment in the Olympics has “never been" a good ROI in terms of the bottom line, but it is "considered by the TV executives ... to be the best promotion for their network that money can buy” (“NBR,” PBS, 8/6).

: USA TODAY's Robert Bianco reviews NBC London Live Extra mobile app under the header, "NBC Makes Big Strides With Its Mobile Games." He writes, "You can have an entertaining viewing experience, one that's even better now that NBC seems to have worked out some of the app's kinks." Users "still have to wait for it to buffer, and you have to adjust to the seemingly random cuts it makes to ads and infographics." But as long as "you're not expecting an HD/3-D experience, watching on a tablet or smartphone can be oddly satisfying." However, the app does not "tell you if the event you're about to watch comes complete with a British announcer or is streaming with natural sound only -- and there doesn't seem to be an intuitive way to find that out" (USA TODAY, 8/7). But in Boston, Jessica Van Sack writes NBC’s Live Extra app was “supposed to complement the world’s first-ever Social Games, but it’s really a bare-bones platform to watch the events that don’t make it to prime time live as they happen.” And that is only “when it works -- and if you can gain access to the app at all.” With “no shortage of ads in the app it’s hard to imagine how limiting the number of viewers serves the bottom line for NBC.” There are “some hints of social media existence in a separate NBC app that does not contain any Olympic live feeds, which is just more proof of the network’s lack of vision in this area” (BOSTON HERALD, 8/7).  NBC Sports & Olympics Digital VP & GM Rick Cordella "acknowledged some issues" on the first Saturday of the games, but said that they "had been rectified." He also "conceded the difficulty of serving video ads into live streams that don't contain set commercial breaks." Cordella: "There are some awkward moments where we insert ads and it doesn't completely flow in the broadcast, but at the same time you're not missing any of the key moments of competition" (, 8/5).

DRAWING PAGE VIEWS: has surpassed 1 billion page views across its computer, mobile and tablet platforms, including the NBC Olympics and NBC Olympics Live Extra apps. Total page views reached 1.1 billion with six days left in the Games, just behind the total of 1.2 billion views for the entire '08 Beijing Games. Total video streams are at 102.6 million, 147% more than Beijing through the same period. Total hours streamed were at 13.2 million, 121% more than the comparable period in Beijing. U.S. Gold Medal-winning gymnast Gabby Douglas is the "most-clicked" athlete with 18.27 million views (NBC).

STAYING AT HOME: On Long Island, Neil Best notes among the 670 employees at NBC's 30 Rock HQs in N.Y. are "an intrepid group of announcers and analysts calling events of less significance to American audiences." Keeping some people in N.Y. "helps keep costs down; it also limits the network's staff footprint in England, as per the IOC's request." It is "not ideal, but it is better than the nothing many Olympic sports usually get" (NEWSDAY, 8/7). The AP's David Bauder noted "less popular sports" like wrestling, team handball, badminton, fencing, archery and shooting are being broadcast out of N.Y. Kelly Tilghman, who is hosting MSNBC's daytime coverage, is set up in a studio "down the hall" from where "SNL" is filmed (AP, 8/4).

REVISITING OLD STEREOTYPES? On Long Island, Glenn Gamboa writes NBC's coverage of the uneven bars finals last night "played out almost like a silent movie." Douglas finished eighth and last in the competition, and she "wore a look of sad resignation after her routine." Viewers could "almost hear the villain's music every time Russia's Aliya Mustafina appeared on the screen with what looked like a smug little smile." Gamboa: "No matter what the reality is, it's pretty clear what story the NBC editors want to tell about 17-year-old Mustafina and her competitiveness with America's newest sweetheart, 16-year-old Douglas. ... There's already plenty of drama in the competition, NBC. No need to manufacture more and, FYI, The Cold War ended a while ago" (NEWSDAY, 8/7).

HEARTS ON THEIR SLEEVES: The London DAILY MAIL wrote Great Britain's victories in the Olympics "may have taken the nation’s emotions to a new level, but viewers are unhappy that the BBC’s reporters can’t seem to keep their own in check." Many have complained about "over-excited touchy-feely displays of congratulation or consolation" from the corporation’s journalists. This has included "rubbing, stroking and patting athletes" as they interview them. Viewers on Sunday "questioned the over-exuberance and urged reporters to calm down." The backlash comes after broadcaster John Inverdale "was in tears as he consoled two British rowers on Saturday who just missed out on Gold" (London DAILY MAIL, 8/6). The NATIONAL POST’s Eric Koreen writes there is a “natural bias that comes into play with the Olympics -- the flag.” Broadcasters are “expected to emphasize, and even cheer for, athletes from their countries.” In general, broadcasters “tend to fall on the side of supporting the athletes -- it backs up the Olympic ideal of the effort, not the result, being worthy.” Plus, analysts “are largely former athletes” (NATIONAL POST, 8/7).

THIS IS "TODAY": This morning’s “Today” prominently featured the U.S. women’s soccer team's dramatic semifinal victory over Canada, leading the broadcast with it and reporting on the match throughout the broadcast. The first hour included live interviews with Gold Medal-winning pole vaulter JENN SUHR and Silver Medal-winning hurdler MICHAEL TINSLEY, Gold Medal-winning tennis player SERENA WILLIAMS, NBC’s AL MICHAELS, and gymnastics analysts TIM DAGGETT and ELFI SCHLEGEL. Taped reports were shown on the feelings Olympians experience when they win a Silver Medal as opposed to a Bronze Medal, the highs and lows experienced by the U.S. women’s gymnastics team and the status of synchronized swimming. The second hour featured live interviews with Gold Medal-winning swimmer MICHAEL PHELPS and Gold Medal-winning British heptathlete JESSICA ENNIS. A taped report of hurdler LOLO JONES aired, as did a behind-the-scenes tour of the Athlete’s Village. The third hour led with a live interview with former Gold Medalist BRUCE JENNER and included interviews with Bronze Medal-winning rifle shooter MATT EMMONS and his wife, fellow Olympian KATY EMMONS, as well as analyst LEWIS JOHNSON and’s ALAN ABRAHAMSON discussing the track and field competition. A feature aired on ALICE COACHMAN, the first African-American woman to win an Olympic Gold Medal (THE DAILY).

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