The Rio Olympics may have been heading into the final stretch on Friday, but Usain Bolt certainly wasn’t slacking, even if the Ryan Lochte scandal seemed to be heading toward the inevitable next round of apologies. The world’s fastest man scored his ninth gold medal yesterday as he helped the Jamaican team take first place in the men’s 4x100m relay. That victory plus a historic fifth gold for Allyson Felix and diving dominated NBC’s packed primetime coverage last night – but it ended up in a last place finish.
Fast affiliate ratings for NBC’s 8 – 10:30 PM coverage drew a slumping 4.7/20 rating among adults 18-49 and just 18.14 million total viewers. That’s down a hard 25% in the key demo and 24% in viewership from the early results of August 12 to hit an all-time low in both categories for the 2016 Games for the Comcast-owned net. In fact, last night’s low was down a whole point from the previous demo low of August 16.
All the talk of live streaming minutes and coverage over Comcast-owned cablers also can’t blur the fact that the final Friday of Rio 2016 declined 29% in the demo and had an audience drop of 19% from the comparable night of London 2012 – which was one of the lowest-rated nights of that Olympics four years ago. Night-to-night, Friday’s NBC Olympics coverage took a 12% whack in viewers and 18% among adults 18-49 from August 18’s early numbers – the ratings for that 8 – 11 PM programming was actually adjusted up to a 6.1 rating in the final numbers because the ad-free first 30 minutes were not counted in the Nielsen numbers.
Those shifts of hand aside, last night’s numbers are down from the August 5 Opening Ceremony ratings – way, way down with a 33% drop in viewership and a cratering 39%in the 18-49s. To be noted – NBC surpassed 2.5 billion live streaming minutes for this Olympics on Friday, the best ever for any Olympics by that digital measure.
On the flipside for NBC, an Olympic-themed special episode of Superstore (3.3/13) scored gold for the America Ferrera starring series. Starting at 10:34, the comedy hit an all-time demo high, up 65% from the previous high of its 10 PM November 30, 2015 premiere. With 10.90 million viewers catching the late episode of Superstore, the series also hit an audience high – again beating the viewership of its pilot, which pulled in 7.2 million on that Monday night last year when it had The Voice as a lead in. (UPDATE 10:47 AM: Adjusted numbers for Superstore now have last night’s special episode getting a 3.0 rating in its 10:34 – 11:02 slot with 9.7 million viewers. Down from the fast affiliate numbers of earlier today but still the best Superstore has ever done in both categories.)
The flipside of the flipside is that Superstore was way behind the special preview episode of Go On that NBC used the Olympics to shill in 2012. Down 41% in the demo from what the now shuttered Matthew Perry comedy snagged on August 7, 2012, Superstore also had the disadvantage of airing on Friday as opposed to the Wednesday slot that Go On got. The special episode of the workplace comedy, which returns for its second season on September 22, also had a much lower lead-in than Go On – NBC’s Olympics coverage on August 7, 2012 had a 9.2/27 rating and 28.75 million viewers – way up form last night.
With the exception of an original Big Brother (1.5/7) on CBS, almost everything else on TV that wasn’t the Olympics was an encore with preemptions for preseason NFL games across local affiliates across the country.