The Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games did not prove to be the rating success that NBC was hoping for. The network had to scramble last minute to staff the games after the firing of Matt Lauer, who in the past had headed up the crew on-site at the last few summer and Winter Olympics. Back home NBC is struggling with Megyn Kelly’s show not turning out to be a hit, and now the failure of the ratings for the Winter Olympics has caused concern throughout NBC and the Today show. The ratings for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games is down 24 percent from the Sochi games in 2014 for NBC.
The Lower Ratings For The Olympics Are Another Hit For NBC
The firing of Matt Lauer from NBC set off a chain-reaction of lower ratings for the morning programs and then for the Winter Olympics. In past years, Lauer had always hosted the Olympics, both Summer and Winter, and his firing from NBC ended all that. The day that Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb had to announce the termination of Matt Lauer on-air, the two were devastated and reportedly shocked. NBC had to make a similar announcement a year before when Billy Bush was fired from NBC and Today.
Savannah Guthrie read a statement from NBC to the Today viewing audience.
“On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer.”
The Powers That Be At NBC Are Trying To Put A Spin On The Bad Ratings From The Olympics
NBC invested $12 billion in order to cover the Winter Olympics, but they reportedly had to offer free ad time because of poor viewership, says Radar Online. CNN Money says that being the carrier of the Olympics is turning out to be a negative for NBC.
“[The Olympics are] more of a burden than a boon for NBC.”
Deadline says that on the last Saturday of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics the ratings took another 5 percent dip from the previous “rock bottom.” But now NBC is reportedly in damage control mode and NBC Broadcasting chair Mark Lazarus released a statement.
“In today’s media environment, to average, approximately 20 million viewers over 18 nights – which is essentially the number of hours for a full season of three primetime shows – is a tremendous accomplishment. When compared to the competition, we were more dominant than any Winter Games ever.”
Some Think The Lower Ratings Are Due To Team USA Performance And Others Think It Was The Time Zone Issue
The New York Post said that the ratings for the Winter Olympics “slid downhill yet again” for NBC. Dan Lovinger, executive vice president of advertising sales for NBC Sports Group, says that the Olympics will always be something to see because they don’t come around every year.
“Advertisers continue to support the Olympics because they recognize the unparalleled value and reach it provides over 18 days and nights.”
But while NBC reps continue to see the upside of being the exclusive network of the Olympics, other sports analysts say that it’s no shock that the televised Olympics are down because all sports are down. BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield says even the NFL has taken a hit.
“As we’ve seen with the NFL, with primetime television, with the Oscars.… virtually anything but the NBA, any form of live TV is in decline. Primetime TV is down near double-digits. The NFL is down high double-digits. And the steepest declines [in viewership] are among younger viewers.”
The buzz is that some are blaming the lackluster performance of Team USA, and the mismatched time zones between the United States and Korea. Brian Wieser, senior research analyst at the Pivotal Research Group says that it’s unfair to compare one Olympic games to another.
“It’s really hard to compare one Olympics to another. There is no data that allows you to compare them. Could you compare like-for-like programs, like figure-skating finals?