SBD/February 12, 2014/Olympics

NBC Rating Monday Is Lowest For Sochi Yet, Matching Turin Figure For Same Night

NBC earned a 12.8 fast-national rating for its primetime Olympic coverage Monday night, the lowest-rated night during the Sochi Games to date and matching a rating seen during the ’06 Turin Games for the first time. NBC averaged 22.4 million viewers for coverage on Monday night, which featured Gold Medal finals in women’s super combined skiing, men's short-track speedskating, men's moguls and men’s speedskating. Compared to live coverage on the same night during the ’10 Vancouver Games, NBC’s audience was down 10% and 11%, respectively, from a 14.2 rating and 25.2 million viewers. While the rating was even compared to the same night in ’06, viewership did see an increase (only 21.1 million viewers for Turin). Salt Lake City topped NBC’s primetime coverage for the second consecutive night with a 21.7 local rating, with Minneapolis-St. Paul again ranking second with a 19.9 rating. Through four nights of Olympic coverage, NBC is averaging a 14.5 fast-national rating, down 4% from Vancouver, but up 11% from Turin. Meanwhile, NBC drew 6.0 million viewers for its late-night coverage on Monday, marking the best audience for that window (first Monday of a Winter Olympics) since the ’02 Salt Lake City Games (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

WINTER OLYMPICS PRIMETIME RATINGS TREND (EXCLUDES OPENING THURSDAY)
 
'14 (Sochi)
'10 (Vancouver)
'06 (Turin)
'02 (Salt Lake)
4th Day (Monday)
12.8
14.2
12.8
19.6
3rd Day (Sunday)
14.4
14.3
13.3
17.6
2nd Day (Saturday)
13.9
14.0
13.5
17.1
Opening Ceremony
17.0
17.3
12.8
25.5
FOUR-DAY AVG.
14.5
15.1
13.1
20.1
 

STILL GOING STRONG: While NBCSN did not set any new records on Monday, the net averaged 1.6 million viewers from 12:00-5:00pm ET, marking the best audience for any U.S. cable network in that time period. NBCSN is averaging 1.6 million viewers for all Olympics coverage through Monday, up 60% compared to similar coverage during the ’12 London Games, which were the first Olympics carried on NBCSN. CNBC also averaged 1.2 million viewers for coverage on Monday from 5:00-8:00pm, which marked an all-time Olympic record for the net. Coverage was highlighted by the Norway-U.S. men’s curling match (NBC).

NEWS TRUMPS SPOILERS: The AP's David Bauder writes NBC's Brian Williams "dropped the whole idea of 'spoiler alerts'" last night on "Nightly News" by "straightforwardly reporting" U.S. snowboarder Shaun White's fourth-place finish in the halfpipe. The move was "pleasing" to "news purists while no doubt disappointing some people who wanted to be surprised in prime time later." Bauder: "It was the right call. Trying to keep secret the biggest athletic story of the games so far -- from an American perspective -- for some 10 hours made little sense." Meanwhile, NBC snowboard analyst Todd Richards was "adept at describing the slushy conditions of the halfpipe and demonstrating precisely how it would most hurt a competitor like White, who needed a slick surface to generate the height needed for his acrobatic moves." But neither he nor White "used that as an excuse for the results, remembering that the conditions were the same for everyone" (AP, 2/12). NEW YORK magazine's Joe DeLessio noted NBC has a "long tradition of hyping certain athletes during the Games, but White has gotten special treatment even among that select group." The net aired an "hour-long special about his preparation" before the start of the Games, and viewers "have been reminded all week that White could make history in the men's half-pipe" (NYMAG.com, 2/11).

LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: The AP's Bauder notes NBC's decision to end its primetime coverage with U.S. luger Erin Hamlin winning a Bronze Medal was understandable "from a production standpoint." It marked the "first medal by an American singles luge athlete ever," and the net wants to "send the audience to bed feeling good." Bauder: "In this case, it was anticlimactic and many viewers were likely to have turned away in disappointment following the halfpipe competition. Better to have stuck some ice dancing in that last half hour and given Hamlin more of a spotlight" (AP, 2/12).

ON YOUR HIGH HORSE: The GLOBE & MAIL's John Doyle wrote one of the "abiding inevitabilities of any Olympics is the complaint that NBC is shirking the job of in-depth coverage while the Canadian broadcaster, whether CBC or CTV, is the standard-bearer for substantial coverage." Most of the complaints "come from Canada, or from Canadians living in the U.S." Doyle: "Maybe, you know, NBC knows its business and business model and is succeeding, while not caring a whit about complainers. Maybe the inevitable outbreak of NBC-bashing is an outbreak of what we can call smug Canadianism." What "agitated some" about the Opening Ceremony is that NBC "cut short the speech by IOC president Thomas Bach on the matter of tolerance." Doyle wrote it was "probably a bad idea to cut off Bach’s speech, but it’s not as if the man’s windy exhortations about athletes being tolerant had the slightest impact" on Russia President Vladimir Putin (THEGLOBEANDMAIL.com, 2/11).
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