NBC SETS ITS OWN OLYMPIC RECORDS
After a weekend of spectacular ratings success, it seemed clear that NBC’s decision to blanket its Olympics coverage over cable and Internet outlets has not resulted in cannibalizing its broadcast audience. On Saturday, ordinarily the least-watched day of the week for broadcast television, 28.7 million viewers tuned in, setting a record for an opening night of the competition, topping the previous record of 26.3 million set in 1996 for the Atlanta Games. On Sunday, the network outdid itself, with an average of 35.45 million viewers tuning in during primetime between 7:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. (In particular, the Olympics coverage clobbered CBS’s dating show Three, which drew just 1.76 million viewers and was likely the lowest-rated show in the history of the network.) Despite its ratings success, NBC was still being taken to task for its decision to delay many of the key events so that they could be presented in primetime instead of airing them live. When Time magazine’s media critic James Poniewozik tweeted, “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 Olympics Executive Producer Jim Bell responded, “You do know that all sports events are being streamed live right?” Poniewozik shot back: “I do, indeed! Have enjoyed it. Apparently a lot of folks still prefer watching it on TV.” That may indeed be what is happening — people watching events live on their smartphones and tablets, then catching them again on their TV sets in primetime for all the HDTV details.