SBD/August 13, 2012/Olympics

NBC's Primetime Rating Remains Strong; NBC Sports Net Draws Best Audience Ever

NBC was averaging a 17.6 final rating and 31.1 million viewers for primetime London Games coverage heading into last night’s Closing Ceremony, up 9% and 12%, respectively, from the same 16-night period at the '08 Beijing Games. Saturday night’s coverage finished with a 12.6 rating and 21.8 million viewers, up 22% from the same night in Beijing and marking the 15th time in 16 nights that average viewership has surpassed the comparable night four years ago.

PRIMETIME OLYMPIC RATINGS
 
Day
London
Beijing
Athens
Sydney
Atlanta
Opening Ceremony
Fri.
21.0
18.8
14.6
16.2
23.6
Night 2
Sat.
15.8
13.9
11.8
13.1
17.2
Night 3
Sun.
19.8
18.1
15.4
14.6
22.9
Night 4
Mon.
18.0
17.6
16.6
13.8
22.9
Night 5
Tues.
21.8
20.0
18.3
15.5
27.2
Night 6
Wed.
17.9
16.7
17.3
14.6
22.4
Night 7
Thurs.
21.1
17.9
19.3
14.9
26.8
Night 8
Fri.
16.2
15.2
14.4
14.9
17.9
Night 9
Sat.
15.9
17.6
13.6
13.3
19.4
Night 10
Sun.
17.5
16.0
15.8
16.0
23.4
Night 11
Mon.
15.8
15.8
16.4
15.8
26.4
Night 12
Tues.
17.6
16.3
15.7
12.4
21.3
Night 13
Wed.
16.8
15.2
15.3
13.9
19.8
Night 14
Thurs.
13.6
13.8
13.8
14.0
20.7
Night 15
Fri.
13.2
10.5
12.5
10.6
16.1
Night 16
Sat.
12.6
10.2
11.1
10.5
15.8
16-Night Avg.
17.6
16.2
15.2
14.0
21.6
             

DAY CARE: NBC’s 10 weekday daytime Olympic telecasts averaged 7.1 million viewers during the Games, marking the best average for that segment for any non-U.S. Olympics ever. Viewership during each telecast topped its comparable period during Beijing. The 7.1 million average was up 31% from Beijing and 37% from the '04 Athens Games.

JUST FOR KICKS: NBC Sports Network finished with an average of 4.35 million viewers for Thursday’s U.S.-Japan Gold Medal women’s soccer game, marking the net’s most-viewed telecast ever. The figure tops the previous high of 3.6 million viewers set during Game Three of the ’10 Blackhawks-Flyers NHL Stanley Cup Final. Additionally, the match drew 1.47 million streams on NBCOlympics.com, marking the most-streamed event in Olympics history, just ahead of the 1.46 million streams for the London Games women’s all-around gold medal event (NBC). Meanwhile, Telemundo averaged 3.6 million viewers for Mexico’s win over Brazil in the men’s gold medal soccer match on Saturday morning, marking the net’s most-viewed Olympic event ever (Telemundo). The CBC averaged 1.6 million viewers for Canada’s bronze medal win over France in women’s soccer on Thursday morning, which marked the team’s first medal in Olympics history (CBC).

MOST-VIEWED EVENTS IN HISTORY OF NBC SPORTS NETWORK
DATE
EVENT
VIEWERS (000)
8/9/12
Olympics: Women's Soccer Gold Medal match: U.S.-Japan
4,350
6/2/10
NHL Stanley Cup Final: Blackhawks-Flyers: Game Three
3,600
6/4/09
NHL Stanley Cup Final: Penguins-Red Wings: Game Four
3,448
8/6/12
Olympics: Men's Basketball Pool Play: U.S.-Argentina
3,330
7/28/12
Olympics: Rowing qualifying
3,140
     

THAT'S A WRAP: NBC earned an 18.7 overnight rating for last night's Closing Ceremony, marking the best overnight for a non-U.S. Games Closing Ceremony ever. While overnight ratings are subject to change when final figures are released later today, the 18.7 rating is up 3% from Beijing and 30% from Athens eight years ago (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

SOCIAL MEDIA NUMBERS: The AP’s David Bauder reports Twitter “estimates there were more than 50 million tweets about the Olympics, at a pace of 80,000 per minute after Jamaica's Usain Bolt won the gold medal in the 200-meter sprint.” Facebook saw the number of fans of Olympic athletes “soar: American gymnast Gabby Douglas had 14,358 followers on July 27 and 540,174 less than two weeks later.” Many factors "surely drove interest, like compelling competition and the amount of coverage available on TV and online.” NBC Sports Group Chair Mark Lazarus said of the use of social media, “It was the great unknown. We believed it would be a positive for us, and people would dialogue about the games even if they knew the outcomes. But every day in social media is a learning experience, not just for us but for every business. Yeah, I think maybe we did underestimate it" (AP, 8/12).

HITTING THE BLEEP BUTTON
: YAHOO SPORTS’ Martin Rogers reported NBC execs “were originally left with a decision on whether or not to censor” actor Eric Idle’s profanity during last night's Closing Ceremony “for its delayed network telecast, after it was heard on its live internet stream.” Keeping with the correct wording of the song "Always Look On the Bright Side of Life," Idle sang, “Life's a piece of (expletive), when you look at it.” NBC ended up censoring the word on the network feed (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/12). Meanwhile, USA TODAY's Scott Gleeson wrote NBC basketball analyst Doug Collins "seemed to say an expletive during the live television broadcast" of yesterday's U.S.-Spain men's final. Talking after the win by the U.S., Collins said, "Other teams had such celebrations after wins, but the United States knew one thing only, gold or buts, bitch." Bob Fitzgerald was the game's play-by-play announcer, and Collins "referred to his partner as 'Fitz' throughout the game." Gleeson: "But in the soundbyte in question, it's hard to decypher which word Collins is saying" (USATODAY.com, 8/12).

RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME? The AP’s Bauder noted NBC opened its primetime coverage Saturday “with a stirring one-hour documentary by Tom Brokaw on British resistance in World War II called ‘Their Finest Hour,’ but it opened the door for Twitter critics who wondered whether that scheduling was NBC's finest hour.” Many were “miffed to have to sit through a program on war before getting to sports.” NBC Sports Group Senior VP/Communications Greg Hughes said that the net “had no doubts about the programming decision.” Hughes: "It's a tribute to the host country and an exceptional film” (AP, 8/12).

TEAMWORK: NBC Sports and Olympics VP & Creative Dir Mark Levy said that in an era “where product placement advertising has become commonplace … he has no problems mixing the editorial and advertising duties.” Levy said, "We want to work together to make sure the messaging represents both parties.” NBCU President of Research & Media Development Alan Wurtzel added that consumers “better remember the ads with Olympic themes.” The key is “to make the ads uplifting.” From NBC's standpoint, that “fits with the narrative of athletes striving to fulfill their dreams with Olympic medals.” Levy said that NBC “begins meeting with advertisers months before the games to discuss working together.” If the arrangement “works well, the advertiser is tied in the public mind to a popular, positive event and NBC gets campaigns in the weeks leading up to the games that dovetail with its interest in drumming up viewer anticipation” (AP, 8/10).

SNEAK PEEK: In L.A., Scott Collins noted NBC used the Games “as a launch platform for new shows.” Nielsen ratings show that the net gave “Go On” a “special preview Wednesday night, averaging a healthy 16.1 million viewers" the 11:00pm ET time slot. Primetime Olympic coverage has "averaged 29.1 million viewers, so quite a few folks checked out after ‘Go On’ turned up” (LATIMES.com, 8/9). In N.Y., Bill Carter writes NBC “finds itself hoping to maintain some of the lift it gained from the Summer Games” and the “key to doing that it creating hit shows” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/13).

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