NBC Defends Downward Spiral in Ratings for Rio Games

AP Photo
The Associated Press

Despite Wednesday night’s Rio Olympics lineup of top athletes including U.S. beach volleyball stars Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross, superstar American swimmer and multiple gold medal winner Katie Ledecky, and Japanese iconic gymnast Kohei Uchimura, Nielsen ratings saw a drop in prime viewing for NBC, down 14 percent from the comparable night in 2012 at the London Olympic games.

Ad Week reported that, although viewers are now more apt to use other platforms to view the Olympics, Total Audience Delivery, or TAD, which calculates average viewing over broadcast, digital streaming, and cable, saw Wednesday’s prime time coverage still descending 7% from the same night at the London games four years ago.

Overall, NBC suffered the lowest primetime ratings since Saturday’s opening coverage.

NBC hopes Thursday night’s events which included Michael Phelps-capturing his 22nd gold medal, and Simone Biles taking the gold in women’s gymnastics individual all-around competition, reflects a boost in ratings.

NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus bragged about collecting an additional $30 million in advertising dollars since the Olympics commenced last Friday night to supplement the $1.2 billion already collected before the games began. Nevertheless, although advertising revenue may be increasing, overall viewership is decreasing.

The New York Times reports:

Viewership for Friday’s opening ceremony fell 35 percent compared with four years ago, followed by a 28 percent tumble in the first day of competition. Although NBC has done better since, the average audience of 28.6 million after five days is down nearly 20 percent from the 35.6 million who were watching the London Games.

Lazarus explained that viewing consumption meets with NBC’s expectations for the broadcast, and points out that because viewers have other means of viewing the games “the mix is just a little different.” Lazarus insists, however, that their advertisers are happy.