Olympic Ratings Continue To Plunge For NBC

Despite incredible races and stories, NBC racked up only  23.9 million viewers and a 6.3 rating among adults 18-49 during the 8-11 pm period. The same Friday four years ago in London averaged 26.9 million viewers and an 8.1 rating in the key demo.

When NBC allowed people to watch sporting events, it had a terrific lineup of knowledgable commentators.  I learn a lot each Olympics from these former athletes commenting on their own sports.  NBC camera crews also continue to do an amazing job in their coverage.  The images and camera work have been incredible.

NBC shocked many with its horrific coverage of the opening ceremonies. It interrupted the ceremony eight times with commercials so the viewers would just get back into some moving imagery only to have NBC insert a tacky series of commercials.  Then when you were allowed to watch and hear the ceremonies, you had to listen to truly moronic commentary from the NBC morning show personalities like Meredith Vieira repeatedly saying things like “I just want to dance!”  It is the type of thing that appeals to the morning show audience at NBC during cooking and fashion segments. It was horrible for the Olympic ceremony and seemed an endless effort of personalities to say that the games were really about them.  Then there was the incredibly stupid decision of NBC to run segments from an interview of one of the creators on what she wanted to achieve with the games — rather than allow us to actually listen and see the games unimpeded.  It was like showing a Van Gogh painting but putting a picture of artist in front of its with key biographical information.
Once the games started, it got worse.  NBC continued to prefer its interviews and stories over showing competitions.  There was remarkably little in the game to actually watch between personal stories and commercials.  The worst moment came when NBC brought in that titan of sports Ryan Seacrest (who appears to have the sole qualification of being Ryan Seacrest) in the midst of the biggest night of swimming competition.  NBC wisely built up a roughly 30 minute period when Phelps had to finish a race, go to a medals ceremony, warm up, and then race again. It was a fascinating thing to watch with a clock counting down in the corner.  However, just as the clock was ticking down, Seacrest was introduced and broke away for a long trailer of the Star War movie. It was something out of a Saturday Night Live skit.
There has also been a general criticism of NBC downplaying protests and problems at Rio.  Many have speculated that NBC was advancing the spin of the IOC and Brazil over the disastrous selection of Rio.
As NBC freaks over the plunge in ratings, it might want to ask itself about the decision to feature less sports and more of itself.  While NBC continues to believe that viewers tune into to see its personalities, they really do want to watch competitions.  If the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had a modicum of ethics, it would be incensed by the coverage.  However, sports is hardly the priority for either the IOC or NBC.
So, perhaps in the NBC corporate meetings this week, someone will have the courage to  paraphrase Shakespeare, and say “The fault, dear NBC, is not in our [athletic] stars, But in ourselves.”  

31 thoughts on “Olympic Ratings Continue To Plunge For NBC”

  1. I get that NBC’s ratings are down. That is what it is.

    I don’t, however, understand most of the complaints on this thread. So far, I’ve watched multiple matches/contests in 20+ sports with knowledgeable commentators for each. I’ve watched them on one broadcast channel and six cable channels, with coverage of significant matches regardless of whether the US team was a participant. Opening ceremony coverage is always fluff, but so what? Coverage of fluff is bound to be fluff.

    Most, but not all, medal ceremonies covered by NBC have involved US medalists (and not only gold). They are broadcasting to the US, after all. The coverage of the men’s sevens rugby medal ceremony (US didn’t have a medal) was about as moving as any that has ever occurred. The Kuwaiti skeet shooting medalist’s ceremony was interesting, as it gave coverage to the dispute between the IOC and the government of Kuwait.

    It would be virtually impossible to cover every event all the time — it is not surprising that there is some selectivity.

    Rather than the generalized complaining, how about somebody explaining exactly what it is that is missing. Now, someone complained about lack of coverage of equestrian events — but I just watched the jumping competition. A few days ago, I watched dressage. What exactly is the problem?

  2. This is no surprise. TV ratings are down across all programming. Potential viewers don’t have time to watch the boob-tube. They are too tired after having to work 2+ jobs they hate, just to pay their property taxes and keep their homes. They don’t have disposable income to pay cable/satellite-TV rates, let alone pay for the electricity to run the box. Basically, people are too busy trying to protect themselves and their families from a government that keeps wanting to ‘help’ them..

  3. NBC is why God created DVR. Tape it, watch it when you WANT TO, fast forward the commercials. How great is this?

  4. These low rating are great news. This means that the public is not quite so stupid and as easily manipulated as the Elite Establishment seems to think they are. The public is actually doing some thinking of its own. There is a glimmer of hope for the US after all. Unfortunately, the gym where I go to exercise has a dozen flat panel screens where the Olympics seem to be on all of the time. But on the plus side, there is no sound; at least none that I can hear, because I have my headphones on listening to music. If you absolutely must watch the Olympics, this is the way to do it.

  5. NBC doesn’t even bother to show the faces of the medal winners unless they’re from the US. It’s like the athletes are ghosts—unless they’re from the US or in a match w/ the US. And the ad thing is out of control–more than ever before, everywhere! Ad blocking all the media, which I do relentlessly, is like a part time job. Advertisers with crappy, unsafe, stupid products and their profit-only motive are tiresome–and I’m sick of it. Ha ha–I like the Grindr reference, pretty funny.

  6. NBC clearly thinks that Olympics sports are boring. If the producers don’t like sports, then perhaps they shouldn’t produce a show based on the Olympics. Just a thought…

    If they want pithy commentary, then discuss the appalling use of Rollkur in dressage, the curious case of the horse supposedly pulled because of a bug bite but with a swollen face and lolling tongue that raises serious concerns. The initial report on the Olympic official website said he had a hairline fracture, and the rider got an X-ray. That was removed from the site. And while we’re at it, why not have better coverage of the equestrian events. I could only find like 4 dressage goes, and a bit more of the cross country.

    Or talk about the Israelis being bullied at the Olympics by Muslim athletes. The Lenanese actually blocked them from getting on the bus. The IOC tried to split the Israelis up, which would have put them at risk of terrorism, as well as destroyed the unity of their delegation. Instead of making the bully Lebanese get off if they wouldn’t play fair, they just got another bus for the Israelis.

    Then the Israeli wrestler won gold without winning a single match because his Middle Eastern opponents refused to step inside the ring with a Jew.

    So that’s super that NBC commentators “just want to dance” it out like they’re at a Dane Cook show, but there could have been interesting things to discuss after the action of the actual event.

    Let’s also have a discussion about the sports that are considered Olympic calibre. Handball? Synchronized Swimming? Why not just have a texting event to appeal to the tweens?

    1. Karen – you have never REALLY played hand ball if you do not think it should be an Olympic sport. However, that thing with twirling the ribbons I am not so sure about. 😉

  7. Here’s an idea! Let the Olympics have a “Zero Go” option, where they can add new sports on the fly and each Nation has maybe 12 hours to send people to compete!

    This year they could have had:

    1. Projectile Vomiting! Much like a javelin throw, the object is to see how far a sick athlete can heave. . . the heave!

    2. Grindr Disguise! Athletes would have 10 minutes to disguise themselves for a gay hookup in Rio! Only problem here is they would to compete under fake names, and Muslim countries might not have much luck in their call for participants.

    3. Tranny Free for All: Trannies from each country could compete in the equivalent of a Texas Cage Match wrestling event. Last Tranny standing gets Gold, next to last, Silver, and second runner up for Bronze. This would have the appeal of both a girl fight, and an inter-gender match, which are fascinating!

    Now this would increase viewership!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    PS. FWIW, “Zero Go” is what I think they used call the military option of just attacking out of the clear blue sky with no preparation, no calling up of reserves, etc. Just bombers go bomb, tanks and troops invade immediately. The theory was, IIRC what my dad said, that the nation best prepared for war would have the immediate advantage.

    1. Squeeky – envision RuPaul and Milo doing the commentary on Drag Queen Mud Wrestling.

  8. I am following the Olympics by internet news. In some cases they will show the race, etc without ads.

  9. I find the sleep aid drug commercials fascinating. Side effects may include, hallucinations, vomiting, dry mouth, agitation, depression & suicidal tendencies.

  10. The golf, on the other hand, has been pretty well presented. Commercials yes, but well timed if obnoxious. What has happened to advertising? Culture of mediocrity?

    Sent from my iPhone


  11. Kind of like the American political scene, no content, just blather, for big bucks, by big bucks. Could this be an American phenomenon? The change comes from the bottom up. Only an idiot waters the leaves of the tree. But wait, Trump waters the leaves.

  12. I have not watched this propaganda for over 30 yrs. The crazy idea that nations who everyday are trying to kill off all who disagree with them, promote ways of life that are barbaric and deadly ,would for a few days, put these actions aside and compete for some high ideal is stupid and naive and deadly for people being consumed by these very nations. Beware of water being slowly heated up as you bask in your idealistic hot tub.

  13. The Olympics has become a money maker…the athletes and the sport is just a vehicle for commercials and unfortunately for the people in Brazil and other poor countries corruption and exploitation.

    The athletes are doing amazing things but all of that is obscured by greed. Sad very sad.

  14. NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus had something to say.

    He announced that NBC had sold $30 million of additional advertising since the Olympics began –
    on top of the already record-breaking $1.2 billion total before the flame was lit in Rio.

  15. I lost interest in the Olympics when the USOC joined the rest of the world in measuring success only by the medal count. I was more interested in seeing our amateur athletes compete and win against the professionals the other countries would select to represent them. I recall one Olympics where a swimming athlete representing some small country struggled to swim his event. His courage and accomplishment was far more memorable than whomever ended up standing on the podium.

  16. I’m not watching. However, from JT’s commentary it sounds like the dumbing down that is increasingly occurring in other sports. Baseball is my game. And when playoffs were added, every year there would be a BIT of dumbing down of the coverage for the casual fan. It is now too much, but I’m aware I am both in an upper stanine of knowledge, and also a curmudgeon. I think for the average fan postseason coverage is fine.

    Of course, this is no revelation, but they do much of this for ratings. The laughable part is ratings keep going down, in most sports[except football]. The reasons are competition and their self inflicted wounds by trying to be all things to all people. Maybe they need to try and appeal to their base. Something politicians forgot some time ago.

  17. I turned it off the first day and have not been back. They need some dog races too.

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