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No Gold for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics

Before NBC breaks out the bottle of bubbly, the reality of these rating results is what could now be the least-watched Winter Olympics in broadcast history

From Campaign US: NBC is referring to the just concluded 2018 PyeongChang Olympics as “the most robust presentation of the Winter Games in media history.” It cites a total audience delivery of approximately 19.8 million viewers, on average, per night (from Thursday, Feb. 8 through Sunday, Feb. 25), according to Nielsen. And NBC specifically states that the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics is the first Winter Games where live primetime coverage was available side-by-side on broadcast, cable and via live stream.

According to the NBC Sports spinmeisters, the network has now also ranked first in 74 Olympic telecast nights historically. It has exceeded the combined viewership of ABC, CBS and Fox on 35 consecutive Olympic nights. It has now won 438 consecutive Olympic half-hours in primetime. And the combined platforms at NBCUNiversal—NBC (176 hours), NBCSN (369 hours), CNBC (46 hours), USA Network (40.5 hours) and NBCOlympics.com/NBC Sports app (over 1,800 hours)—offered the most in-depth coverage in Winter Olympics history, totaling over 2,400 hours.

Additionally, coverage of these Winter Games boosted programming staples ‘Today,” “NBC Nightly News,” “Meet The Press” and the local weekday newcasts on NBC-owned television stations, as well as a second preview of new sitcom “A.P. Bio” following the closing ceremony this past Sunday. On social channels, NBC Olympics delivered 241 million total video views across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (according to ListenFirst).

Then, of course, there was that two-week promotional platform for all NBC programming, all of which constitutes its current midseason line-up.

But before NBC breaks out the bottle of bubbly in celebration, the reality of these rating results, even with all this added coverage on all the NBCU platforms, is what could now be the least-watched Winter Olympics in broadcast history.

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Written by Marc Berman

Marc Berman

Marc Berman has been writing professionally since 1999 and is the author of the “Mr. Television” for Campaign US (www.campaignlive.com). Most recently, Berman was the creator and Editor-in-Chief of website and newsletter TV Media Insights for Cross MediaWorks. From 1999-2011, he was the Senior Editor for Mediaweek and has also written for The New York Daily News, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Emmy Magazine, among others. Berman has also appeared on “Entertainment Tonight,” “Extra,” “Access Hollywood,” “Inside Edition,” “The CBS Evening News,” E!, CNN, CNBC, Fox News and MSNBC.

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  1. I honestly believe Olympic games will score as the lowest of all-time except for the 2028 games in Los Angeles because that’s on home soil but the only reason why every Olympic games are going to score lower than the next one is because broadcast TV ratings are lower and viewers are spread out more these days so I see these ratings for 2018 as more positive than negative considering that condition.

    After seeing Monday’s ratings for regular programming I think NBC has run away very happy about the results for the 2018 games considering so many regular programs don’t even come close to the ratings that the Olympics have averaged or have been getting on the high side these past couple of weeks. The Olympics are so well above everything else including at times primetime NFL games that I just see this as a very successful Olympic run for the games.

    Another big thing to look at is how different these games were managed over past years there was much more catering to the west coast viewers which is something that NBC has been needing to do for years. There was much more live coverage and counting of the overall night ratings. Primetime ratings weren’t the only numbers that NBC was even looking at because Primetime Plus which aired in last night was counted including west coast replays overnight. NBC’s late night numbers were the highest ever I believe they were way up from past editions because of the west coast markets. Going forward this is a great thing for NBC to go after because in future games when the ratings get lower and lower this will help balance things out and keep the west coast happy.

    Reaching new lows means nothing anymore these like it did back in 2006 because regular programs were actually up there with the Olympics in Torino that year including American Idol beating it. To me that’s the worse rated Olympics of all-time summer or winter. 2018 was actually nowhere near regular programming so that’s why I’m going to officially declare these games as successful for NBC and Comcast.

    • I agree completely. These games were very successful for NBC. A drop of that size after 4 years is not only expected, I think it is better than expected.
      And I agree that the drops will continue until Los Angeles in 2028.

      • Yeah exactly I was reading some other people’s comments on other websites and they stated the exact same thing that a drop of 4 years is expected at this point but these games still did better than expected. I was expecting them to be a lot lower than they were especially with the way the NFL dropped this year so averaging around 20 million in primetime is really good these days over a course of 18 nights which isn’t easy to do to keep viewers engaged that long.

        Another factor too is that the American athletes outside of the snow sports were not doing well especially in figure skating so if we get any contenders in the next decade that might help things as well.

        Yeah we got to expect more drops coming up for Tokyo 2020, Beijing 2022, Paris 2024 (could level out as there might be interest in Paris like London that year), and TBA 2026 until we get to LA. Depending on how things go 2026 might level out if Calgary gets the games because any North American games will keep everything timezone friendly for NBC. We can guarantee one thing though LA in 2028 will rate really well no matter how small the ratings get by that point.

          • They got them through 2032 so they got all of the next decade locked in. Not sure when the negotiations will start for the post-2034 games probably sometime in the middle of the next decade. I think that’s gonna be interesting because FOX which will be a virtually new network by then might be willing to compete with NBC to spend money on them.

    • I agree the Olympics did good networks don’t ever want to go head to head with Olympics as they will get beaten big time other than American Idol beat the Olympics can’t think of anything ever beating them. It was smart for NBC to have primetime live even know it was the next day over in South Korea and most of the action happened in the overnight. If Canada gets the winter games in 2026 & LA in 2028 should do well in the ratings as Paris should do well with not 12 to 14 hour ahead of USA which Paris is 6 or 7 hours ahead may get some live events in the morning & afternoon as well.

      • Since CBS has Celebrity Big Brother with 10 unlikeable people out of 11 (Keisha was the exception) I have an idea ~ The next time they do one, use our Olympic athletes, and do an Olympics theme. Have 2 teams ~ a Winter team with 4 men and 4 women, and a Summer team with 4 men and 4 women (16 total). Run it like a regular Big Brother ~ 90 or more Days and the same rules. Michael Phelps (the most decorated American Olympian) needs to be in the House. And, if you need an International, get Usain Bolt.