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Volume 25 No. 6
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NBC Remains Down From Sochi After Wednesday Primetime

NBC Sports on Wednesday night delivered its lowest primetime Olympic audience of the Pyeongchang Games since the Opening Ceremony. The net averaged a total audience delivery of 19.2 million viewers on Wednesday across broadcast, cable and digital. NBC alone accounted for 17 million viewers, while NBCSN averaged 1.9 million viewers and NBC Digital had an average minute audience of 237,000 viewers. Coverage on Wednesday night featured men’s alpine skiing (NBC) and pairs free figure skating (NBCSN). Through the first Wednesday, NBC’s total audience delivery is averaging 23 million viewers, still down from the same point of the ’14 Sochi and ’10 Vancouver Games. The addition of cable and digital puts Pyeongchang in front of the average of 21.1 million viewers during the ’06 Turin Games. For NBC alone, primetime is averaging 20.9 million viewers for Pyeongchang (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor). In Boston, Chad Finn writes viewership is "trending in a direction that must satisfy NBC," and the net's coverage has "hit its stride as the Games approach their midpoint." Some of the recent ratings success has been "driven by star power." Monday’s ratings peaked "just after Chloe Kim’s gold medal win in halfpipe," while the net "got its highest ratings in a 15-minute block" on Tuesday when "pairs figure skating as well as a snowboarding competition featuring Shaun White aired" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/16).

WINTER OLYMPICS PRIMETIME VIEWERSHIP ON NBC
NIGHT
DAY
TURIN ('06)
VANCOUVER ('10)
SOCHI ('14)
PYEONGCHANG ('18)
TAD* ('18)
Bonus
Thurs.
n/a
n/a
20,016
15,995
17,249
Opening
Ceremony**
Fri.
22,200
32,641
31,690
27,837
28,286
2
Sat.
23,239
26,189
25,115
21,394
24,159
3
Sun.
23,244
26,372
26,323
22,676
26,201
4
Mon.
21,069
25,224
22,395
20,295
22,341
5
Tue.
18,405
20,330
23,722
20,500
22,600
6
Wed.
17,867
29,416
20,809
17,042
19,157
AVG.
21,109
26,888
24,461
20,931
23,000
NOTES: * = TAD number includes broadcast, cable and digital viewing in primetime. ** = Pyeongchang was first time Opening Ceremony was streamed live (hours before NBC telecast).
Download the
NBC Olympic Primetime

SNAP COUNT: In L.A., Stephen Battaglio notes NBC for the first time is "offering live streaming coverage on a platform other than its own apps," with events such as snowboarder Shaun White's Gold Medal-winning halfpipe performance available on Snapchat. Snap's content deal with NBC "provides stories, clips, short-form programs and Olympic highlights for its audience and splits the ad revenue generated with NBC." The net began its Olympics partnership with Snapchat during the '16 Rio Games in an "effort to tap into" the company's "youthful users." Snapchat's Rio content was "watched by 35 million people, 90% of whom were younger than 35," and its Pyeongchang Games content has "already reached 35 million unique users through just seven days." Snapchat VP/Partnerships Ben Schwerin: "It's a really young audience and obviously an audience that's hard to reach on television. ... Young people are as passionate and interested in the Olympics as they've always been. They are just consuming content on more platforms" (L.A. TIMES, 2/16).

CALL IT LIKE THEY SEE IT: THE RINGER's Katie Baker writes NBC figure skating analysts Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir have "provided substantive, sparkling insight into the sport that they’ve always lived and breathed." The "beauty of the new NBC broadcast is that it feels like a backstage pass, like a window into the true world of figure skating in all its (sometimes harsh!) splendor." Lipinski and Weir are "not gratuitous in their criticism, and their honesty encompasses raw, giddy excitement as well." While some viewers "bristle at the volume of criticism that Weir and Lipinski provide, they’ve demonstrated that they do know when to hold back" (THERINGER.com, 2/16). USA TODAY's Martin Rogers notes the Lipinski/Weir booth for many viewers is "more of a reason to tune in to the Winter Olympics than the individuals and pairs populating the competition itself." Figure skating "hasn’t boomed since the 1990s and has been left behind by the rapidly evolving media landscape." Weir and Lipinski are "doing their darndest to bring it back" (USA TODAY, 2/16). But in N.Y., Phil Mushnick notes the moment U.S. figure skater Bradie Tennell's music began and she "began to skate for keeps" during the team competition last Saturday, Lipinski "chose to drown the music and diminish the scene with extraneous gab." The "needless commentary was both aggravating and standard for what TV sports analysis has become." NBC’s figure skating coverage has been "heavy with such needless over-the-music word-surplus." Mushnick: "Can’t we ... just watch and, crazy as it seems, just enjoy?" (N.Y. POST, 2/16).

HIGH MARKS: The AP's David Bauder writes the work of Leigh Diffey and Bree Schaaf "bring excitement and historical sweep to their calls" during the skeleton competition. They were "explaining the technicalities without getting lost in them." Similarly, cross-country ski analyst Chad Salmela "made the women’s 10-kilometer freestyle race easier to understand, despite its complexities." He "captured the thrill as he and viewers tried to will Jessica Diggins over the finish line to earn the USA’s first Olympic medal in the sport" (AP, 2/16). 

LIMITED COVERAGE: In N.Y., Choe Sang-Hun notes North Korea’s state-run television as of Friday had "broadcast none of the Games -- a stark contrast to its glorifying coverage of Kim Yo-jong, who visited the South last weekend as a special envoy of her brother, the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un." South Korean TV stations historically buy Olympic broadcasting rights "for the entire Korean Peninsula as a matter of principle -- even though they do not broadcast to the North -- because South Korea’s Constitution defines the whole peninsula as its territory." They gave up the rights "for the North to the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, a coalition of broadcasters," for these Games. That group in turn "feeds Olympic broadcasts free of charge." But in the North, TV broadcasting is "limited to a few hours of propaganda-filled programs a day" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/16).