UPDATED, 2:13 PM: As with all things in sports, it always about the final numbers. For the first Wednesday of the XXIII Winter Games on NBC, those numbers are stumbling.
On a full offering of primetime coverage of some stunning skating and skiing — including Mikaela Shiffrin’s delayed debut and eventual gold-medal win in the Giant Slalom — the total audience delivery for last night was 19.2 million.
Like the metered market results this morning, that usually much touted combo of NBC, NBC Sports Network and digital viewing is the lowest overall number that the Comcast-owned outlet has seen for the PyeongChang games over five days of official competition.
The comparison to the last Winter Olympics shows a pretty steady trend of decline, with the first Wednesday of the 2018 Games down 8% from the comparable night of Sochi 2014, which was only shown on NBC proper.
Sure, it was Valentine’s Day last night and many were surely also watching cable news as more details of the terrible school shooting in Parkland, FL, became public. Yet, strip away everything but the NBC numbers and last night’s Mike Tirico-hosted primetime coverage dropped 17% in Big 4 eyeballs from the 20.8 million who watched on February 12, 2014.
Maybe having marquee name Shiffrin competing down the slopes in primetime tonight in her signature Slalom event could turn things around..
PREVIOUSLY, 7:32 AM: Last night’s XXIII Winter Olympics on NBC were a bit of the best of times and the worst of times, as Charles Dickens once said.
The best because there was the twice-delayed but gold medal-winning debut of Mikaela Shiffrin and some simply ice melting and also gold medal achieving pairs figure skating from Germany’s Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot. The worst because on Wednesday the Comcast-owned network fell to its lowest primetime point in the ratings of the official competition of the PyeongChang games so far.
Even though Shiffrin’s debut was at the top of the primetime coverage last night, the schedule and the time zones did NBC no favors with the skier’s gold winning second run of the Giant Slalom coming well out of primetime on the East Coast after 12:30 AM ET. This also came with many Americans undoubtedly out for a Valentine’s Day dinner and the nation reeling from the multiple fatalities out of the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida yesterday.
All of which meant, with a 13.1/22 in metered market results, last night’s combination coverage on NBC and NBC Sports Network took a tumble.
Not only was the Day 5 coverage of the official competition out of South Korea the worst that NBC has done for these Games but also it was down from both Sochi 2014 and Vancouver 2010. Unlike this year, both the XXII Winter Olympics and the XXI Winter Olympics were only shown on NBC itself. Looking at comparable nights, last night’s live primetime coverage dipped 2% in the early ratings from 2014 and 32% from 2010.
If you just go NBC to NBC, the first Wednesday coverage of 2018 is down just over 12% from the February 12, 2014 coverage out of Russia – which faced an American Idol over on Fox.
The lowest result of the Sochi games at that point, that first Wednesday of 2014 went on to deliver 20.8 million viewers to NBC. A number that might just be a little out of the net’s reach this year even with the combo of NBC, NBCSN and streaming. For these Games, only the soft launch and pre-Opening Ceremony unofficial coverage of February 8 has done worse so far.
The day before Omarosa Manigault-Newman’s birthday, last night’s Big Brother: Celebrity Edition (1.3/5) was even with its Monday airing but down 28% from last week’s premiere – which did not face any Olympics competition. As for lead-out The Amazing Race (0.9/3), that CBS offering was down 18% among adults 18-49.
The CW ditched its regular Riverdale and Dynasty line-up for the slightly wilted Valentine’s Day roses of specials Relationships Just For Laughs (0.2/1) and The Top 14 Valentine’s Day Movies Of All Time (0.2/1). Fox was all encores and ABC’s only original offering was Match Game (0.5/2) was down a tenth.
We’ll update with more 2018 Olympics numbers as we get them later.