NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus stands by the decision to edit IOC president Thomas Bach’s Sochi Games Opening Ceremony speech, and said he was not surprised the Bob Costas pinkeye story had gone “viral” because Costas is a national Olympics institution. In a wide-ranging phone call with reporters today, Lazarus also said he was not worried the lackluster performance by U.S. athletes so far would translate to lower ratings, and dismissed suggestions NBC’s primetime tape delays would impact numbers, calling it an out-of-date notion. But he also said a focus on NBC’s primetime ratings, or even NBC’s ratings, was too narrow a way to look at Games’ performance for the company.
Lazarus and NBCUniversal research president Alan Wurtzel said that, as with the London Summer Games, they have discovered that extra digital content helps, not hurts, primetime ratings. “The more devices people use to view the Olympics on, the more they watch…A rising tide lifts all boats,” Wurtzel said. In a rat-a-tat presentation, Wurtzel tossed out a storm of stats demonstrating the network’s flood-the-zone, mostly live Olympics presentation strategy was working well and having no negative impact on NBC’s Games ratings in primetime. “Our strategy of providing more live coverage across all our platforms is once again proving to be very appealing,” Lazarus said. “Viewers want event programming. There is no bigger event than the Olympics. Our multi-platform presentation style has clearly resonated with them,” he said.
More than 30 million people in the United States have visited its Olympics websites, up 54 percent from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, the execs said.