An average of about 41 million viewers in the United States watched the Opening Ceremonies. And Sunday’s NBC audience of 36 million is higher than any night from the 2008 Beijing, 2004 Athens or 2000 Sydney Games, the network reported.
Even with Monday’s prime-time Games coverage down by 5 percent from the corresponding night in Beijing four years back, NBC overall is well ahead of the game this time in terms of viewership.
(Regarding that Monday drop: Four years ago on the same night, NBC aired many events live, including a gold-medal race by swimmer Michael Phelps — always a big draw in the United States. On Monday, NBC’s prime-time coverage was all tape-delayed, including the disappointing showing by the U.S. men’s gymnastics team.)
But this time around, one of the more popular sports of the Summer Olympics — according to the media, anyway — has been The Trashing of NBC.
This sporting event — in which NBC is pilloried for failing to air popular Olympics competitions live, instead holding them to broadcast in prime time — has been going on for ages. Some years, this activity has been more popular than others.
But this sport has come into its own with the 2012 Games, which, as others have noted, marks the first year that competitors have been able to widely use Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites to score points on NBC. Ironically, it also marks the first year that NBC has made available to fans a live-stream of virtually every competition in the 16-day event (not including Opening Ceremonies day).
The Reporters Who Cover Television are among the sport’s most avid fans.
Time magazine’s TV critic, for instance, tweeted that “NBC tape delay coverage is like the airlines: its interest is in giving you the least satisfactory service you will still come back for.”
NBC’s Games exec producer Jim Bell responded: “You do know that all sports events are being streamed live right?” (NBC has been streaming all the competition live for die-hard enthusiasts, though it’s not archiving the streams until after that particular competition airs in prime time. In other words, viewers who want to watch it live can watch it via NBC’s app, so long as they are cable or satellite subscribers, after which they have to wait to see it broadcast on NBC in prime time.)
“I do, indeed! Have enjoyed it,” replied the TV critic, James Poniewozik, though he’d forgotten to include “enjoyed it” in his original tweet about NBC’s lousy service — darned that pesky 140-character limit!
But, Poniewozik added: “Apparently a lot of folks still prefer watching it on TV.”
You mean all those “people don’t watch television on their TVs anymore” reports are hooey?