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NBC is sticking with its $7.75 billion Olympics deal after the Beijing Winter Games "disaster"

  • AP

    Through last Tuesday, an average of 12.2 million watched the 2022 Winter Olympics across NBC Universal's network, cable and streaming platforms, down 42% from the 2018 PyeongChang Games. The average for NBC alone was 10 million, a 47% drop. "These Olympics were a disaster for the network: a buzz-free, hermetically-sealed event in an authoritarian country a half-day’s time zone away, where the enduring images will be the emotional meltdown of Russian teen-agers after a drug-tainted figure skating competition and a bereft Mikaela Shiffrin, sitting on a ski slope wondering what went wrong," says The Associated Press' David Bauder and Joe Reedy, adding: "Viewers stayed away in alarming numbers, and NBC has to wonder whether it was extraordinarily bad luck or if the brand of a once-unifying event for tens of millions of people is permanently tainted." But, they report, "network executives say there are no plans to try and adjust or escape from its rights deal. Several experts say that would be unlikely, given how live sports are increasing in value and represent one of the few ways advertisers can gather large audiences to sell automobiles or beer." NBC Sports chairman Pete Bevacqua said the ratings are in line with what they told advertisers, who are sold packages that include linear and streaming coverage. But NBC has not yet said whether the Beijing games turned a profit or lost money. While the next two Olympics -- 2024 Paris Summer Games in France and the 2026 Milano Cortina Winter Games in Italy -- aren't ideal for NBC because of the time difference, NBC will have the 2028 Los Angeles Summer Games and, potentially, a 2030 Vancouver Games to look forward to as part of its Olympic deal, which runs through the 2032 Summer Olympics.


    • UPDATE: Beijing Winter Olympics ends as the least-watched for NBC Universal: The Beijing Games averaged 11.4 million across all NBC Universal platforms, down 42% from the 2018 PyeongChang Games' 19.8 million.
    • Beijing Games may one of the most-watched events in U.S. history, but not that many are watching on TV: According to Michael J. Socolow, amid the very accurate reports that the Winter Olympics viewership was down, "there’s another, slightly different type of article that’s proliferated both this year and during the 2021 Tokyo Games, a genre of story that takes it as a given that no one is watching the Olympics. That’s completely inaccurate. As I told the Washington Post last week, it’s possible that the 2022 Olympics will be one of the most-watched events in U.S. history. It’s just that we’re watching on our phones and in our browsers. The idea that 'watching TV' requires a box on a pedestal or a panel on a wall remains so deeply engrained in our minds that a snippet of video consumed some other way feels like it doesn’t count. But fundamentally, it’s all the same. Somebody gets paid to relay a video signal through a transmission process and distribution channel that ultimately monetizes our attention when we click (or scroll) to watch. The final leg in that process—the distribution hardware—is a screen. And screens, in case you haven’t noticed, are everywhere. We carry them around all day, and into bed at night. We’re exposed to them while we’re waiting for airplanes to take off, or for our cars to gas up, or when we’re checking out at the supermarket. They’ve become such a part of our atmosphere that today we’re surprised and delighted by their absence, not their presence. And all those screens, all over the United States, are on all the time. We glance, we doomscroll, we get sucked in for a second or an hour. Sometimes we notice what we’re watching; sometimes we don’t. That’s why, according to quantifiable metrics, Olympic viewership is stratospheric even as we think that 'nobody is watching.'"
    • NBC cut 42% of the Closing Ceremony from its primetime re-airing

    TOPICS: Winter Olympics, NBC, Peacock, Closing Ceremony, Pete Bevacqua, Coronavirus, NBC Sports, Ratings, Summer Olympics