On the second Saturday of broadcasting for NBC’s Olympic coverage the ratings have not been as good as the peacock network would have hoped they would be.
Deadline reports that on a night with almost no original programming, NBC Olympic coverage between 8:30 pm and 11:00 pm only drew 17.1 million viewers.
This represents a 37 percent drop from the Vancouver Winter Games in 2010 and an 18 percent drop from what the network had for the 2006 Torino Games on the second weekend of Olympics broadcast.
Even compared to the first Saturday following the opening ceremony at the Sochi Olympics, NBC only brought in 25.1 million viewers, a 31 percent drop in viewers from the same night a week earlier.
But NBC says it’s pretty happy with their Olympics coverage so far — barring the issues caused by the nasty infection to both of Bob Costas eyes, which has forced the network to find, not one, but two replacements — things are going as planned.
The second Saturday of NBC Olympics coverage saw Meredith Vieira filling in for Matt Lauer, who was filling in for Bob Costas.
This marked the first time in history that a female anchor had taken over the primetime slot for the network.
A explanation for the poor ratings, could be related to social media and the many other applications the network is using to bring the Olympic experience to viewers, including live stream of events, which has not occurred in past Winter Games.
Some think that the network is trying to boost ratings and has gotten in hot water for exploiting the drama in the personal lives of the athletes participating in Sochi, most notably, it appeared that the reporter interviewing American Alpine skier Bode Miller — after he won a bronze medal in the Super-G Sunday — was purposely trying to get him to become emotional.
Miller lost his younger brother in April — who was a snowboarder and had hoped to share the Sochi experience with Bode — when he had a seizure related to a motorcycle accident
NBC defends tearful Bode Miller interview; Miller doesn’t blame interviewer pic.twitter.com/gVN3sdiP5m
— 7News Yahoo!7 (@Y7News) February 17, 2014
On Friday, fill-in host Meredith Vieira brought another American athlete to tears during a studio interview. Skeleton, when silver medalist Noelle Pikus-Pace was forced to recount the heartbreak of her miscarriage in front of a national audience.
Many observers are raising eyebrows at the apparent emphasis the NBC Olympic coverage is putting on the athletes personal tragedies as opposed to their athletic achievements.
While it is interesting for viewers to see what the Olympic medalists have gone through to get to the top of their game, there’s a fine line between sharing the information and being overly dramatic.
— Tamer Yazar (@tameryazar) February 17, 2014
It remains to be seen how things will end for NBC and the Olympics, but with one week left in the Sochi Winter Games a lot is at stake in the network’s $4.4 billion contract to broadcast four Olympics through 2020.