Lisa de Moraes
Lisa de Moraes
The TV Column

NBC awards itself Olympic gold for viewership

Video: Washington Post reporters and photographer recall their favorite moments from the 2012 London Olympic Games, and what it was like to be in the arena watching the events.

Sunday’s Olympics finale was the most watched Closing Ceremony for a non-U.S. Summer Olympics in 36 years, NBC announced Monday.

Oh, and the London Games was the most watched television event in U.S. history, the network proclaimed, thumbing its nose at the Reporters Who Cover Television, TV critics and charter members of #NBCfail who’d been in an uproar about NBC’s prime-time tape-delayed broadcasts of the competition and the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

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Pulitzer Prize winner, Peabody recipient, Medal of Freedom honoree -- Lisa de Moraes is none of these, but she is an authority on the bad direction, over-acting, and muddled plot lines being played out in the TV industry's executive suites.

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In its accounting of its ratings performance on Sunday, of course, NBC is only counting the Closing Ceremony from 8:30 to 10:58 p.m. ET/PT. That’s when Olympics anchor Bob Costas came on and told viewers that they could see more of the “London Closing Party” in about an hour — after NBC’s planned, ad-free unveiling of its new comedy, “Animal Practice,” and the late local news. The Closing Ceremony actually wound up restarting about midnight.

For its trouble, “Animal Practice” attracted an average audience of about 13 million viewers. That’s a win for NBC.

Between 8:30 and 10:58 p.m., the Olympic wrap party logged an average of 31 million viewers.

Some Reporters Who Cover Television, TV critics and charter members of #NBCfail were particularly agitated over the editing of the Closing Ceremony, which resulted in Americans being denied their right to see, among other things, George Michael sing a second song; the Royal Ballet; and Eric Idle singing “Always Look on The Bright Side of Life,” from the Monty Python flick “Life of Brian” — for which we are grateful.

“Gee, I can’t wait for the #ClosingCeremonies to be over so I can watch Animal Practice — No One Ever,” weighed in one #NBCFail charter member, in a fairly representative comment from that those using that Twitter hashtag.

“More than 219 million Americans watch the London Olympics on the networks of NBCUniversal,” the operation bragged Monday, though how NBC knows that everyone in those Nielsen homes watching the Games was a U.S. citizen, we cannot say.

Oh, and those 219 million are the number of people who “sampled” the Games, which includes people who only watched a few minutes over the coverage’s 17 days. Advertisers like that number because if you watched six minutes, say, you probably saw an ad break. Networks like those so-called “reach” numbers because it allows them to sling around gimongous numbers like 219 million people.

More to the point, an average of 31.1 million viewers watched the Games coverage on NBC in prime time, making it the most watched Summer Olympics not staged in a U.S. city in 36 years — since the 1976 Montreal Games. That figure tops the most recent Summer Olympics, 2008’s Beijing Games (27.7 million), by 12 percent.

NBCUniversal presented a total of 5,535 hours of the London Olympics across NBC, NBC Sports Network, MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo, Telemundo, NBCOlympics.com, two speciality channels and a 3-D channel.

For comparison’s sake, the record-holder had been the 2008 Games, in which NBC’s networks offered nearly 2,000 hours of coverage.

And as we say goodbye to our London Olympics TV-viewing experience, we leave NBC crowing, proud as a peacock, about its coverage that set digital records (nearly 2 billion page views and 159 million video streams). And in the distance, #NBCFail-ites shout: “NBC bragging about its record-breaking Olympics TV viewing is like a dictator who’s the only one on a ballot bragging about winning” — and other bons mots too numerous to mention.

‘Ev and Ocho’ pulled

VH1 on Monday yanked its new reality docu-soap, “Ev and Ocho,” starring two of its better-known reality stars, after one was arrested on a domestic violence charge.

Longtime NFL wide receiver Chad Johnson — aka the Former Chad Ochocinco — was picked up Saturday evening after allegedly head-butting his new wife (and star of “Basketball Wives”) Evelyn Lozada, who had a three-inch gash on her head, according to media accounts that cited the arrest report.

Ochocinco is a VH1 veteran, having starred in the network’s dating competition series, “The Ultimate Catch.” He played the “ultimate catch.” Ironic, huh?

The Miami Dolphins, for which Johnson was supposed to play this season, said Sunday that they’d terminated his contract. Before that announcement, Miami head coach Joe Philbin said at a Sunday news conference that he planned to “speak with Chad directly” about the situation, CNN reported.

VH1, which had been so looking forward to next month’s debut of “Ev & Ocho,” instead wound up scrubbing the show, even though the first season was already in the can. The show was to document “the journey of this charismatic and passionate couple’s every step, as they prepare to walk down the aisle and into each other’s hearts forever.”

“Due to the unfortunate events over the weekend and the seriousness of the allegations, VH1 is pulling the series ‘Ev and Ocho’ from its schedule and has no current plans of airing it,” the network said Monday on its Web site.

According to the arrest report, the couple began to argue Saturday evening over a receipt for a box of condoms, and things escalated.

The confluence of reality TV and “reality” comes for VH1 almost three years after the Viacom-owned network had to throw in the towel on two reality series — “Megan Wants a Millionaire” and “I Love Money 3” — when a competitor on both shows, Ryan Jenkins, was found dead of an apparent suicide after being accused of killing his ex-wife.

‘Stripes’ under fire

A group of Nobel Peace Prize winners has spoken out against NBC’s new reality series, “Stars Earn Stripes,” because, the laureates say, “war isn’t entertainment.”

“This program pays homage to no one anywhere and continues and expands on an inglorious tradition of glorifying war and armed violence,” the laureates wrote to NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt, producer Mark Burnett and Gen. Wesley Clark, who’s hosting the competition series.

The show is “a massive disservice to those who live and die in armed conflict and suffer its consequences long after the guns of war fall silent,” the Nobel laureates, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, said in a letter, which was sent to reporters Monday by the Nobel Women’s Initiative, a group created in 2006 by six female Nobel Peace Prize winners.

A rep for the Nobel Women’s Initiative told the Post that the organization is in regular contact with the male Nobel Prize winners, such as the ones listed on the letter.

“Trying to somehow sanitize war by likening it to an athletic competition further calls into question the morality and ethics of linking the military anywhere with the entertainment industry in barely veiled efforts to make war and its multitudinous costs more palatable to the public,” the letter continued.

“Stars Earn Stripes,” which is set to debut Monday and which NBC plugged relentlessly during the London Olympics, “pairs minor celebrities with U.S. military personnel and puts them through simulated military training, including some live fire drills and helicopter drops,” the letter noted.

An NBC spokesman responded Monday: “ ‘Stars Earn Stripes’ is about thanking the young Americans who are in harm’s way every day. This show is not a glorification of war, but a glorification of service.”

To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.com/tvblog.

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