NBC Olympics ratings hit lows not since Sydney and Athens

Even with NBCSN cable offering in prime-time along with live, exclusive streaming was not enough for most millennials to tune out altogether

My initial thoughts were that most Americans are still a curious bunch.  We want to know who won and who lost.  Combine that with the mostly negative and sad headlines out of Brazil, we often wondered if the Zika virus had any real impact affecting any of the outdoor venues?  Did now suspended United States women’s soccer goaltender Hope Solo had to go far as if she was planning her next act in acting in some mega-blockbuster horror/science fiction tale (albeit the suspension announced by US Soccer on Wednesday is only for six months, which amounts to a handful of matches).

Leave it to NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus to say such glaring comments such as these on his teleconference with media members on Wednesday:

“Our planning, production and  presentation of the Rio Games, across broadcast on NBC, our many cable outlets, our streaming on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app and our massive social media outreach is the most impressive undertaking I’ve seen in the media world.  As a company, across Comcast and NBCUniversal, Rio has been another proud achievement among a list of many.  This is the most ambitious task in the media business, and our team of thousands scattered among Rio (2,000-plus), Stamford (more than 1,000), Orlando and Hialeah all deserve a Gold Medal.”

78 percent of American homes actually tuned in to at least a portion of the Rio Games, but Lazarus put such a spin on things–you might be thinking he may be the 21st century version of The Joker of Batman fame and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell all rolled up in one package:

“The audience for these Games was enormous, encompassing almost 200 million Americans overall on television alone, not to mention those engaged on our other platforms.  NBC’s primetime broadcasts were again the dominant form of consumption for Americans, accounting for about 95% of all of the primetime audience.  But by putting events—for the first time ever in primetime–on NBCSN, Bravo, and at times USA Network, as well as streaming primetime in pattern, we learned a lot about consumption habits and attracted new audiences.  We’ll use all of the data from all of our platforms to develop our plans for PyeongChang in 2018 and Tokyo in 2020.”

With tape delay being the word for the next three Olympics when you count Beijing again in Winter 2022 (didn’t they just do the Summer Games in 2008?), I wonder how many people will actually sit down and watch.

Bottom line is according to the website Sports Media Watch, the Rio Summer Games finished up with a:

“14.4 rating and 25.4 million viewers on NBC, per Nielsen fast-nationals — down 18% in ratings and viewership from London in 2012 (17.5, 31.1M) and down 11% and 8%, respectively, from Beijing in 2008 (16.2, 27.7M).”

Even with webstreaming and people checking out other sports online, those ratings were only marginally better than London but nearly matched Beijing with just the television channels alone.

As far as the top metered markets (the medium to large population centers), only the site of the 2002 Winter Games had the highest ratings once again.  Only the Sochi, Russia Games of 2014 was the only time Salt Lake City did not have the top rating.  This accounts for eight of the last nine Olympiads that the Peacock has covered.

Overall, not since the heavy promos hyping the one-time hit game show Deal or No Deal during the Turin, Italy Winter Games of 2006 have we not seen ratings this poor during the Olympics.

As for the Top 20 list, according to the NBC Sports Group website–that list can be found below and at this link:


The rest of the key details can be found here:

Olympics Wrap: Rio Games Lowest Rated Since Sydney, Least-Watched Since Athens

Salt Lake City Leads Olympic Markets Again, But With Lower Ratings


1. Salt Lake City 20.4/39
2. Denver 19.1/38
3. Indianapolis 18.1/31
4. Austin, Texas 18.0/33
5. Columbus, Ohio 17.8/31
6. West Palm Beach 17.5/29
T7. San Diego 17.2/34
T7. Richmond, Virginia 17.2/28
T9. Minneapolis 17.0/33
T9. St. Louis 17.0/29
T9. Fort Myers 17.0/28
T9. Norfolk, Virginia 17.0/27
13. Washington D.C. 16.9/32
14. Kansas City, Missouri 16.4/28
15. Nashville 16.3/25
16. Sacramento 16.2/31
17. Houston 16.1/28
18. Cincinnati 16.0/28
T19. Albuquerque 15.9/28
T19. Buffalo 15.9/27


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