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NBC's coverage of the Sochi Olympics


Quaker2001
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Here are the TV ratings for Saturday night. As I expected, viewership is down from Vancouver but up quite a decent amount from Torino:

http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2014/02/09/25-1-million-viewers-for-nbcs-saturday-primetime-olympics-telecast/235667/

The big news here is the viewership for the live figure skating coverage on NBCSN--nearly 5 million people, which is more viewers than NBCSN had for any event during the London Games. It seems like the live figure skating is a good strategy so far--it's drawing a lot of viewers to NBCSN, but it's not really hurting the primetime ratings much. I'd be interested to see statistics on how many people watched both the live NBCSN coverage and the NBC primetime coverage. I would guess that NBC is willing to sacrifice a few million viewers in primetime if they can get 5 million + to watch the live coverage on NBCSN.

This is not a great sample, but among the hardcore skating fans I follow on Twitter, many, but not the majority, are watching both. I bet that may change for the individual competitions however. People like hearing it through with two contrasting sets of commentary.

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they're playing alpine skiing now. which i saw almost 24 hours ago. so boring. i'm just turning in because it's on and i care to leave figure skating til primetime and watch everything else live or whenever convenient.

has today's hardcore olympic junkie outgrown NBC -- or tv coverage in general? i remember checking medals and GB and such online during salt lake and wondering when you'd be able to just watch the whole thing online. the future is here, folks! unfortunately, the commercials are even more repetitive, if that's possible.

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they're playing alpine skiing now. which i saw almost 24 hours ago. so boring. i'm just turning in because it's on and i care to leave figure skating til primetime and watch everything else live or whenever convenient.

has today's hardcore olympic junkie outgrown NBC -- or tv coverage in general? i remember checking medals and GB and such online during salt lake and wondering when you'd be able to just watch the whole thing online. the future is here, folks! unfortunately, the commercials are even more repetitive, if that's possible.

The primetime show yes, but not the rest of the coverage. Primetime was mostly background noise for me tonight. I had seen the ski jumping from earlier. Ditto the men's downhill. Figure skating I didn't care about. So really all that I was in it for was slopestyle.

But beyond that, if NBCSN is going to show an event in full, I'll be watching. Given the choice, I'd much rather watch an event on my nice big TV rather than an Internet stream. Thrilled to have that available, but most of the TV coverage still has value. To an Olympics junkie such as myself, it's about the whole experience.. some TV, lots of streaming, the Sochi website to check results. and the inevitable posting on Gamesbids. We are a long ways away from the onus fully being on the online coverage. If the ratings from day 1 are any indication, the TV coverage is still as strong as could be expected.

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i don't know that i agree with your last point, quake cake. i think we now have a choice of whether or not to fully vest ourselves with online coverage, mix streaming and tv, or go whole hog NBC.

and as for NBC and the interviews. meh. i admit i like seeing bob costas at the fireplace. to me, that's one of the reasons i like the WOG more than the summer-- it seems more intimate (and less people care, which i like). but i could live without those perky blonde reporters rinkside asking foreign athletes the same question three different ways: "so tell me how this win (or tragic upset, which i will rub in poignantly) speaks to american values. i'll remind you now that dad and grams died of cancer last year, but how's mom taking it??" pass.

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i don't know that i agree with your last point, quake cake. i think we now have a choice of whether or not to fully vest ourselves with online coverage, mix streaming and tv, or go whole hog NBC.

and as for NBC and the interviews. meh. i admit i like seeing bob costas at the fireplace. to me, that's one of the reasons i like the WOG more than the summer-- it seems more intimate (and less people care, which i like). but i could live without those perky blonde reporters rinkside asking foreign athletes the same question three different ways: "so tell me how this win (or tragic upset, which i will rub in poignantly) speaks to american values. i'll remind you now that dad and grams died of cancer last year, but how's mom taking it??" pass.

quake cake? Not quite sure how to interpret that one. :huh:

You're right.. people do now have a choice. But again, even with those choices, the number of people watching the primetime show is on par with past Olympics. And that's probably including an overlap of the crowd that watching much of NBCSN's coverage this afternoon. NBC's fear has always been that offering more would cut into their primetime audience. 1 night of ratings from a day of full competition may not tell the whole story, but since NBC has live streamed all the competition, their ratings have been stellar. So to your point of asking if the hardcore Olympic junkie has outgrown NBC's TV coverage, still seems like the answer to that question is no.

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i don't know that the hardcore olympic junkie makes up a significant enough portion of the NBC viewership to draw definitive conclusions though, so i guess it's all just speculation here, quake-and-bake.

Well, krow-row-row your boat.. hardcore fans are rarely what drives decision making with these things. It's the casual fans that generally are the difference between a good rating and a bad rating. Hardcore Olympic fans like myself am going to consume a lot of coverage. Yes, more of that may be online or NBCSN now rather than NBC. But even if that's the case, NBC is still serving those fans, so even if they're not watching the primetime show, it's not like NBC has lost them entirely from their coverage.

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absolutely, salt quake city. but your thesis is that NBC is staking everything on its primetime numbers. i would just amend that to add that while those are important, it's likely worth its weight in gold to NBC to lose a bit from primetime if it means exposing those hardcore viewers to NBCSN and the online sports apps. remember how important "exposure" is to NBC, as evidenced by all those god awful pilots they promote and make us watch during the closing ceremonies that they end up cancelling a month later anyway.

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absolutely, salt quake city. but your thesis is that NBC is staking everything on its primetime numbers. i would just amend that to add that while those are important, it's likely worth its weight in gold to NBC to lose a bit from primetime if it means exposing those hardcore viewers to NBCSN and the online sports apps. remember how important "exposure" is to NBC, as evidenced by all those god awful pilots they promote and make us watch during the closing ceremonies that they end up cancelling a month later anyway.

That's where it's gotten interesting, scare-krow. NBC has said primetime is all the crown jewel, but clearly they're trying to prop up NBCSN as well. But it looks like from day 1 (and again, obviously it's a small sample size), that maybe they can have their cake and eat it too. Ratings are there for NBCSN and for primetime. So NBC is able to get those viewers to NBCSN and not even have it cost them ratings points from primetime. It used to be that primetime was everything, but we've seen a gradual shift the past few Olympics to where that's not the case anymore. But even with the emphasis no longer as much on primetime as it used to be, the audience for that show has remained the same size. So if they are losing some of the hardcore junkies to other platforms, it means they must have picked up some viewers from elsewhere to fill the void.

Alright, I'm going to sleep now so I can get up in time for the Norway curling pants tomorrow. We'll pick this up again then.

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I get frustrated with NBC simply because it sometimes seems as if they forget that other nations are actually participating in the Olympic events. Maybe all other networks focus on the "medal count" but the idea that a nation can "win" an Olympic games by stacking up the most medals is constantly perpetuated by NBC. I have heard that there are times when CBC in Canada actually shows events without the constant chatter and commentary in the background. Now, I don't know if that is true but it certainly is a good idea. I'm intelligent enough to watch an event (such as figure skating) and determining if I am impressed with a performance or not. I don't need NBC's blathering commentators pointing out every little mistake a skater might be making. The scores let me know how well the judges believe a skater performed. Finally, I don't have a clue what to make of Bob Costas. He must play well with focus groups but he always seems like one of those Disney automatronic creatures found at Epcot. He can talk the talk, but there is no passion, no sense of emotional connection with the events swirling around him. He's too smarmy. I suppose I just miss Jim McKay and ABC.

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I don't know what the deal is, but Costas seems really disconnected from these Games. He didn't do the opening ceremony, and he's barely even getting any airtime in the studio--sometimes he's saying only two or three lines in between events. Maybe he would seem more connected if he were less scripted.

Or maybe he would seem more connected if he didn't have pink eye and it was less disconcerting to put him on camera. I don't know if that's the reason, but it might explain why he's been on camera less than usual.

I get frustrated with NBC simply because it sometimes seems as if they forget that other nations are actually participating in the Olympic events. Maybe all other networks focus on the "medal count" but the idea that a nation can "win" an Olympic games by stacking up the most medals is constantly perpetuated by NBC. I have heard that there are times when CBC in Canada actually shows events without the constant chatter and commentary in the background. Now, I don't know if that is true but it certainly is a good idea. I'm intelligent enough to watch an event (such as figure skating) and determining if I am impressed with a performance or not. I don't need NBC's blathering commentators pointing out every little mistake a skater might be making. The scores let me know how well the judges believe a skater performed. Finally, I don't have a clue what to make of Bob Costas. He must play well with focus groups but he always seems like one of those Disney automatronic creatures found at Epcot. He can talk the talk, but there is no passion, no sense of emotional connection with the events swirling around him. He's too smarmy. I suppose I just miss Jim McKay and ABC.

Once again.. nationalism sells. I read all these posts from people who think NBC covers Americans and only Americans, but I don't get that read. As for the commentary.. you're talking about sports, events, and athletes that the audience knows next to nothing about. So there needs to be a balance between saying too much and saying enough. I haven't followed much of the figure skating, so I can't comment there, but announcers are always going to face criticism, whether it's the Olympics or a football game. And especially with the Olympics, you're always going to have part of the audience who thinks an announcer talks too much or they don't like Bob Costas or whatever. Again, an event with this much TV coverage is going to draw complaints

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This is a quote from some body on another message board but it is exactly how I feel about NBC's coverage.

"I wish NBC would stop paying such huge dollars for the broadcast rights only to minimize their coverage of the games to an absolute bare minimum. Why can't they give up those rights to someone else who might actually do a better job instead of continually pissing them away? Even if more Americans want to get into the olympics and get excited about them, its like NBC is making it as difficult as possible for them."

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After reading what's on that site, it shows how bad the NBC coverage is.

Lauer: "Let's start with the women's super combined, it happened today. Julia Mancuso taking bronze in that. What did you think of her performance?"

Vonn: "Well, obviously I haven't seen it because it's not on NBC, which will be tonight. But I did hear about the results and I heard she had an amazing downhill run and then hung on for the bronze medal.

Its pretty bad when Lindsey Vonn who works for NBC takes a jab at her employers coverage you know something is wrong.
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This is a quote from some body on another message board but it is exactly how I feel about NBC's coverage.

"I wish NBC would stop paying such huge dollars for the broadcast rights only to minimize their coverage of the games to an absolute bare minimum. Why can't they give up those rights to someone else who might actually do a better job instead of continually pissing them away? Even if more Americans want to get into the olympics and get excited about them, its like NBC is making it as difficult as possible for them."

What site is this, if you don't mind my asking? Would love to see some of these comments.

To me, that is such an ignorant comment. How is NBC minimizing their coverage? Is this someone who is blissfully unaware that every single event is being streamed online? They think ESPN could do a better job? NBC is offering 500+ hours of TV coverage. How is that minimized!

There is plenty to get on NBC about, but sometimes it just gets stupid. I get that NBC's website is poorly designed and it's difficult to find live video, but that hasn't stopped me from watching almost everything I want to see. Is someone complaining that NBC only showed a handful of skiers from the men's downhill yesterday? I watched the entire thing (well, at least the first 25 or so skiers) online at 3am. These events are happened at odd hours. It's hard to blame NBC for showing only a handful of skiers in primetime when they made it available live to anyone who wanted it! My goodness, don't people learn?

After reading what's on that site, it shows how bad the NBC coverage is.

Lauer: "Let's start with the women's super combined, it happened today. Julia Mancuso taking bronze in that. What did you think of her performance?"

Vonn: "Well, obviously I haven't seen it because it's not on NBC, which will be tonight. But I did hear about the results and I heard she had an amazing downhill run and then hung on for the bronze medal.

Its pretty bad when Lindsey Vonn who works for NBC takes a jab at her employers coverage you know something is wrong.

Oh please, like there's anything to read into that. Vonn gets injured and you think she's all that excited to talk about an event she should have been competing in? Matt Lauer might as well have asked her "do you think that could have been your bronze medal?"

Again, this is the same song and dance we go through every Olympics. A handful of people say that the coverage is terrible, yet they keep watching and assume because they have a few friends on Twitter who are saying the same thing that their opinion probably speaks for everyone. NBC's coverage is more than acceptable to me. Could it be better? Absolutely. But I don't think it's nearly as bad as some people make it out to be, nor do I think there's another network in this country would who do as well as NBC. ESPN? Fox? I don't think so. Maybe CBS, but even that's a stretch.

Seriously, some folks need to give it a rest with the complaining and just enjoy what they have because 2 weeks from now, that's it. And it doesn't come back for another 2 1/2 years.

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Okay, this is exactly the type of thing I'm talking about. This is a comment on the Lauer/Vonn story. you linked to

Now with the internet capable of streaming HD quality audio, why can't NBC show everything on their website (if they show the same ads, they should be able to make the same per user-hour revenue); and then on TV just show the good stuff. It's ridiculous that we aren't able to watch what ever events we want as they happen. The internet should be used to make the experience so much better

So apparently we have someone who either doesn't know there's Internet coverage (or maybe can't access it because they don't have a cable subscription) or won't acknowledge the option exists. These are the type of people who are bitching about NBC's coverage. They're too jaded with rage that they couldn't take a few minutes to realize what's out there.


TV Ratings Sunday: Winter Olympics Day Four Coverage About Even with 2010 + '60 Minutes' Falls to Season Low Preceding 'Beatles' Special
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I guess what I am getting at and what that person said is you would think the main network would air more events then just the few hours a day. For me I look at how CBC covers the games here in Canada and can't understand why NBC can't do the same. Here in Canada we get almost everything shown live on TV and don't have to stream it online.

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Or maybe he would seem more connected if he didn't have pink eye and it was less disconcerting to put him on camera. I don't know if that's the reason, but it might explain why he's been on camera less than usual.

It may just be due to NBC packing primetime so full of coverage. With fewer hours in primetime than in 2010, they've been almost wall-to-wall with actual sports coverage the past two nights. They've hardly even had any athlete profiles, and so far just one short piece on Russia last night. With the live coverage on NBCSN, I thought we might actually see more profiles and features in primetime, but that hasn't been the case so far.

I find it hilarious that Vonn is complaining about not having seen the skiing yet. She could have gotten up and watched it on the internet just like the rest of us, or she probably could have watched it at the NBC studios. I do wish NBCSN were showing the alpine events live--it would have been very easy to repackage for primetime, but the start times conflict with some of the U.S. hockey and curling matches.

I guess what I am getting at and what that person said is you would think the main network would air more events then just the few hours a day. For me I look at how CBC covers the games here in Canada and can't understand why NBC can't do the same. Here in Canada we get almost everything shown live on TV and don't have to stream it online.

It's been explained many times in this thread and others why U.S. TV can't operate the same way that Canadian TV does.

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I guess what I am getting at and what that person said is you would think the main network would air more events then just the few hours a day. For me I look at how CBC covers the games here in Canada and can't understand why NBC can't do the same. Here in Canada we get almost everything shown live on TV and don't have to stream it online.

What difference does it make how CBC covers the games? I know not everyone gets NBCSN and the other cable networks, but what's the difference between coverage on 1 versus the other? NBC has affiliates with their own commitments and schedules. NBC can't necessarily justify 20 hours a day of Olympic coverage, particularly when a lot of times during the day, there's not much going on. CBC can show wall-to-wall hockey and curling because that's what their audience wants. NBC.. not so much. Canada has more coverage of the Olympics than anyone. Doesn't mean that NBC needs to follow suit. There's more Olympic coverage on TV than there has ever been before. I don't get why everyone needs to hold NBC up to the CBC standard when we get more Olympic coverage here than virtually every other country out there.

jrb, again if you don't mind my asking.. what website is it that you saw those posts? I ask especially that you're in Canada

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If NBC can't air coverage all day, then why not have NBCSN cover events when they are live. It amazes me that most Americans are happy with what ever coverage they are given. Its pretty sad that networks are afraid to go away from what they air everyday for 2 weeks cause it might upset their regular viewers.

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If NBC can't air coverage all day, then why not have NBCSN cover events when they are live. It amazes me that most Americans are happy with what ever coverage they are given. Its pretty sad that networks are afraid to go away from what they air everyday for 2 weeks cause it might upset their regular viewers.

That's exactly what they're doing! I don't have a stake in NBC or anything, but do you understand why I find comments like that so ridiculous? There are a lot of things to knock NBC on, but when someone knocks NBC for something that just flat out isn't true, I don't want to hear that person bitch about coverage.

I got those comments from HFboards, on their Olympics forum. I never said to air 20 hours a day of coverage, but why not after airing the Today show, show live coverage in the morning and then go back to stations regular programming the rest of the day.

Honestly, and here's where you can get on NBC.. they want to focus on NBCSN. That's why the figure skating is there and not on the main network. During the week, I can't really get on NBC for doing that. It's on the weekends where they had more of an opportunity for live coverage that I was hoping for me. In that regard, they could do better, but beyond that, since NBCSN has a good deal of coverage during the overnight/morning hours, that plus the streaming has been pretty satisfying thus far.

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