SBD/February 24, 2014/Olympics

NBC Primetime Sochi Rating Flat Compared To Turin Heading Into Closing Cermony

A smaller audience for NBC’s primetime coverage on Friday and Saturday put the net’s Sochi Games average rating at a 12.4 heading into the Closing Ceremony last night -- a figure that is essentially flat compared to the same point during the ’06 Turin Games. NBC on Saturday saw a second-consecutive night of record-low Olympic primetime ratings. The net drew a 7.8 final rating and 13.3 million viewers for Sochi coverage from 8:30-11:00pm ET, marking the least-viewed night of Olympic coverage in at least the last 20 years. Coverage on Saturday night featured the figure skating gala, which airs toward the end of each Winter Games. Also airing on Saturday night was the four-man bobsled, as well as Gold Medal finals for men’s slalom, men’s parallel slalom and the men’s and women’s speedskating team pursuit. The comparable Saturday night at the ’10 Vancouver Games drew an 11.7 rating and 20.6 million viewers, while the ’06 Turin Games drew a 9.7 rating and 16.5 million viewers. Meanwhile, NBCSN drew a 1.6 rating and 2.5 million viewers for the U.S. men’s hockey team’s 5-0 loss to Finland in the Bronze Medal game Saturday from 10:00am-12:30pm (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

WINTER OLYMPICS PRIMETIME RATINGS TREND (EXCLUDES OPENING THURSDAY)
 
'14 (Sochi)
'10 (Vancouver)
'06 (Turin)
'02 (Salt Lake)
16th Day (Saturday)
7.8
11.7
9.7
15.7
15th Day (Friday)
8.8
13.9
9.7
17.7
14th Day (Thursday)
12.2
13.6
15.8
26.8
13th Day (Wednesday)
12.2
11.9
10.0
19.5
12th Day (Tuesday)
11.2
12.6
15.5
22.3
11th Day (Monday)
13.8
12.5
13.6
17.1
10th Day (Sunday)
12.1
13.2
11.6
17.1
9th Day (Saturday)
9.6
14.7
11.3
14.0
8th Day (Friday)
11.0
13.4
11.2
15.8
7th Day (Thursday)
13.4
14.5
11.9
17.6
6th Day (Wednesday)
12.1
16.7
11.3
17.5
5th Day (Tuesday)
13.7
12.2
11.3
18.5
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
16-NIGHT AVG.
12.4
13.9
12.4
19.0
         

CLOSING UP SHOP: NBC's Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth hosted the net's coverage of the Closing Ceremony last night, and the AP's David Bauder wrote there is a "risk in having a sports announcer" and former NFLer "host your coverage." Collinsworth during one part of the event asked, "Why are the houses upside down?" Commentator Vladimir Pozner then "gently introduced him to the work of artist Marc Chagall" (AP, 2/23). Michaels prior to the broadcast said that the "preparation for an Olympic closing ceremony comes down to seeing the rehearsal ahead of time (which NBC's broadcasters do) and relying on someone like Pozner to offer perspective on the cultural aspects of the show." Michaels: "There's not a lot to say for us. You let it play out. It's very visual. The presentations, the music; I'm not there to get political" (SI.com, 2/23).

NBC DESERVES PRAISE: In Tampa, Tom Jones writes NBC "should be proud of its Olympic coverage." It is "never easy to cover something with such a drastic time difference, and it's never easy to fill a prime-time schedule with events that happened hours earlier." Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir were "the breakout stars calling the figure skating, while I thought the best coverage involved hockey and the sledding events -- skeleton, luge and bobsled" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 2/24). USA TODAY's Robert Bianco writes under the header, "NBC's Coverage Was Worth The Overindulgence." The net on Friday "aired a startling essay" by host Bob Costas "pairing praise of Russia's people with a blistering attack on its foreign policy and treatment of gays and dissidents." Costas in doing so "single-handedly reversed the image that NBC was burying its head in the Black Sea sand" (USA TODAY, 2/24).

RECORD SETTER: Canada’s 1-0 win over the U.S. in the men’s hockey semifinal on Friday afternoon drew 2.12 million unique streams via NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports Live Extra app, marking a streaming record for NBC Sports. The figure could set a new mark among all sporting events for an authenticated streaming audience. NBC’s previous record was 2.11 million uniques for the non-authenticated Giants-Patriots Super Bowl XLVI stream in '12. The Canada-U.S. semifinal passes the previous Olympic record set earlier last week with the authenticated stream of Thursday’s Canada-U.S. women’s hockey Gold Medal game (1.2 million uniques). For comparison, ESPN’s most-streamed event remains the U.S.-Algeria pool-play match from the '10 FIFA World Cup, which had about 866,000 uniques (Karp). In N.Y., Richard Sandomir noted NBC going into the game had been "concerned that office computer networks could be overloaded with people trying to stream the game from their desks at work." NBC Sports Group Senior VP & GM for Digital Media Rick Cordella said, "I looked at the Internet and only saw a few complaints." Sandomir noted the number of people "watching the stream at any particular moment, indicated it was rising throughout the game and peaking at 850,000" at 2:09pm ET, "just before the end." Overall, 9.1 million users "have streamed live video from Sochi," up 24% from the '12 London Games (N.Y. TIMES, 2/22).

I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR: THE ATLANTIC's Nolan Feeney wrote for some Olympic fans, "spotting and calling out sexism in Olympics coverage has become a sport in itself." NBC's primetime coverage drew "criticism for the way commentators and analysts cover female athletes," and several viewers found the broadcast of the women's ski halfpipe Thursday "particularly irksome for the way it repeatedly referred to skiers as 'girls' instead of women." NBC skiing analyst Steve Porino was involved "in one of the bigger dust-ups." Porino said, during a segment about how extreme the Sochi courses were for skiers, female athletes do "all of that while in a Lycra suit, maybe a little bit of makeup -- now that is grace under pressure." Feeney noted academics and scholars "for years ... have analyzed the way Olympic television coverage treats female athletes, from commentary just like Porino's remarks, to less obvious metrics like visibility and screen time in certain events" (THEATLANTIC.com, 2/21).

BACK-END TECH: Massachusetts-based web content delivery firm Akamai Technologies said on Friday that it "has already delivered more data" for the Sochi Games "than it did for all of" the London Games. Akamai said that it is "supporting more than 20 rights-holders worldwide in delivering Olympics content," including NBC, France Televisions, and TV2 Norway (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/22).
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