Without the London Olympics, NBC struggle for bronze

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

15 August 2012

London Olympics didn’t create preference for NBC

I was hooked on the London Olympics. Despite my body’s need for sleep, I was up until midnight most nights, soaking in as many events as possible.

There is something exceptional at the core of the Olympics. After all, it’s not every day we are able to witness history.

“These numbers should be a concern because it exposes NBC’s ratings spike as only due to it’s Olympic coverage, not out of brand loyalty.”


London OlympicsI wasn’t alone. In fact, the London Olympics were the most-watched television event in US history. According to Nielsen’s data, 219.4 million people viewed a a portion of this summer’s Olympic coverage. NBC was smart to take live coverage to the Internet where the network found 57.1 million unique viewers. It wisely offered free smart phone and tablet applications, which gave eager viewers the chance to tune in and stay current with results.

It’s hard to find fault with NBC’s Olympic coverage from a branding perspective. The problem is, with the summer games over, NBC is finding it hard to compete with FOX’s prime-time content.

“NBC got its first taste of the difference between the Olympics and anything else it can offer in prime time: its audience Monday night dropped about 25 million from the network’s Olympic highs,” reported The New York Times.

These numbers should be a concern because it exposes NBC’s ratings spike as only due to it’s Olympic coverage, not out of brand loyalty.

Here’s why: With the enormity of the network’s viewing audience during the Olympics, there was ample commercial time to highlight upcoming prime-time content — which NBC did. Problem is, that content lacked the punch needed to keep viewers watching after the closing ceremonies.

Days later, The Times reported the gloomy news that “non-Olympic programming on NBC was beaten by Fox by 28 percent.”

Landing the London Olympics was a fancy first place prize for NBC. Yet, to follow that with subpar content like the bizarre “Stars Earn Stripes” was a huge misstep.

In short, NBC quickly returned the massive piece of share it stole from its competitors during the Olympic Games.

Maybe in four years, NBC can celebrate again, but as for now, there is hardly a reason.

See more posts in the following related categories: London Olympics NBC Olympics NBC ratings Olympics ratings Television ratings


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