Olympics Ratings Slide From Sochi 2014 For NBC’s Unofficial Launch

Lots of the politics and tensions of the Korean Peninsula were out front on NBC’s unofficial primetime kickoff to the 2018 Winter Olympics last night. Mike Tirico deftly took over the net’s coverage, and skating and skiing were in the fore as Nathan Chen and others began their PyeongChang pursuits.

All of which unsurprisingly put NBC in the gold medal spot among the Big 4, but its numbers were a distant silver compared with the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi, Russia.

With a 9.2/16 in metered-market results, last night’s 8-11:30 PM ET soft launch of sorts took a ski-slope slide of 22% from the Comcast-owned net’s February 6, 2014, coverage of the XXII Olympic Winter Games. Due to the packed schedule of the Games, that pre-Opening Ceremony primetime coverage was the first time NBC aired competition before the big parade and flag waving in the Olympic stadium.

The Sochi Olympics ended up being the lowest rated ever for NBC, with an average 5.5 rating among adults 18-49 and 21.39 million viewers.

Now, in a 2018 environment where unprecedented streaming options are available, the comparisons to 2014 exist on a couple of different levels. For instance, last night’s skiing and skating events were shown on both NBC and NBC Sports Network.

Combined and live across all U.S. time zones for the first time, the two outlets scored an 11.1/9 metered-market rating, a decline of just 6% from the Sochi soft launch. On the plus side, last night drew the best primetime Thursday metered market numbers on any net since NBC’s NFL season kickoff game on September 7. The PyeongChang soft launch on NBC and NBCSN matched CBS and the NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football broadcast of October 5.

In non-adjusted fast affiliate numbers, the Winter Olympics soft launch drew a night topping 3.4/13 rating among adults 18-49 and 14.53 million viewers. That’s a hard drop of 41% in the demo and around 26% in viewers from what NBC achieved for the pre-Opening Ceremony night of the Sochi Olympics in 2014.

For the other big competition of the night, things were unchanged as the Season 1 finale of the just renewed of The Four: Battle For Stardom (1.3/5) was exactly the same as its February 1 show. As was announced not long after sexual harassment allegations were leveled against Charlie Walk, the Republic Records boss was not on the show on Thursday in his judge capacity or any capacity at all actually.

The CW’s Supernatural (0.6/2) and Arrow (0.4/2) also didn’t take an Olympics hit with both shows matching last week’s results. Night two of the launch of Big Brother: Celebrity Edition (1.4/5) lost 22% of its demo glitter from the Wednesday premiere.

A full TGIT on ABC saw Grey’s Anatomy (2.0/8), Scandal (1.1/4) and How To Get Away With Murder (0.8/3) reveal peeks at the crossovers to come. However, in ratingsland, the Shonda Rhimes offerings decline 13%, 21% and 20% in the key demo respectively against the chilly Olympic competition.

The official Opening Ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics starts live in all time zones at 8 P ET/5PM PT tonight – bring a flag to the sofa to wave. In the meantime, and as we wait for NBC’s primetime coverage of the already occurred Opening Ceremony tonight, here are the top metered market results for last night’s coverage:

1. Salt Lake City 17.7/33
2. Sacramento 17.2/32
3. Seattle 16.6/31
4. San Diego 16.4/31
5. Portland 15.6/29
6. Denver 15.4/28
7. Los Angeles 15.0/28
8. West Palm Beach 14.2/22
9. Pittsburgh 13.8/22
10. Minneapolis 13.5/25