UPDATED with final Saturday and Sunday numbers: Almost all athletes talk about the thrill of being at the Olympics, but it must be extra thrilling for Canada ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, especially after last night’s record-breaking performance.
Going for an historic five-medal streak, the 2010 gold medalists and 2014 silver medalists brought some of the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” to PyeongChang on NBC’s Sunday primetime coverage. The devil was clearly in the details, because the skating duo shattered their own record for a short program with 83.67 points. They are now well poised to take their second 2018 gold after winning the team competition.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 19, 2018
All of which also can flip around any notion of “Blame Canada” for NBC ,as the outlet’s coverage of the XXIII Winter Games pulled itself out of Saturday’s ratings low Sunday. A long weekend probably didn’t hurt either, as a combination of NBC and NBC Sports Networks’ coverage delivered an 11.8/20 in metered market results for the second Sunday of the South Korean-set games. That’s up 13% in the early numbers from the previous low of February 17, now the silver medal among the lowest ratings for official competition of the PyeongChang Games so far. But, in an Olympics that has seen NBC stuck at an 8% decline overall from 2014, a rise is a rise and a win is a win if you can get it.
In total audience delivery, last night’s primetime Olympics coverage garnered 18.2 million viewers for NBC on its network and digital platform. While up from the all-time 2018 TAD low of 16.1 million that watched on Saturday, last night’s results for NBC, NBCSN and streaming is the second lowest overall viewership these games have had so far. However, last night’s overall coverage is down noticeably from the 21.3 million who watched on the second Sunday of the Sochi Olympics in 2014 on NBC only.
In that view, let’s pull back the focus a bit and take into account Sunday’s other sporting competition: the Daytona 500 earlier in the day on Fox and the NBA All-Star Game last night on TNT and TBS. Results for the Charlize Theron-kicked-off car race haven’t crossed the ratings finish line yet, but Team LeBron’s tight 148-145 victory over Team Stephen looks to be even with last year.
As impressive as that going from a non-Olympics year to facing the international competition this year, the All-Star game drew a 5.1 in metered market results, and is also up 4% over when it was up against the 2014 Olympics and 11% over its counterprogramming to Vancouver 2010.
With all that, compared to the first Sunday of the 2018 Winter Olympics on February 11, last night took a hard but not unexpected 28% dive in metered market results. That first Sunday of almost any Olympics is a high or near-high as the marquee names take to their events (or do not, in the case of Mikaela Shiffrin), and viewer interest is still sparked coming off the always hyped Opening Ceremony.
Even with almost no Big 4 rivals but a new 60 Minutes (0.7/3) and a steady Big Brother: Celebrity Edition (1.2/5) last night, at this point in any Olympics, interest is clearly waning. Over on ABC, America’s Funniest Home Videos (0.9/3) and Shark Tank (0.7/3) were both down a tenth from last Sunday.
Pulling back even further, the melded NBC and NBCSN results of last night are down 10% from the primetime coverage of the second Sunday of Sochi on February 16, 2014. That broadcast of more than four years ago was only on NBC and faced not just the NBA All-Star Game but also AMC’s The Walking Dead.
Looking at NBC’18 to NBC’14, last night’s Olympics coverage fell 20% from four years ago. That coverage of February 16, 2014 went on to snare 21.3 million viewers in the final numbers on that Presidents’ Day weekend.
There was a Nielsen delay because of the holiday in the final numbers for Saturday’s Olympics coverage being released.
Have a good holiday!