NBC Claiming Huge Olympic Ratings, But Fine Print Tells A Different Story

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Even before the Games got underway people were questioning how accurate NBC's ratings reporting was going to be and furthermore, how exactly they were going to do it. There's not question that NBC has recorded rather large ratings on the strength of an interesting Opening Ceremony and Michaels, but apparently the numbers they are giving the public are in question. Via the Washington Post....

About 107 million people in the United States sampled the first Sunday of the Beijing Games across all of NBC Universal's broadcast and cable networks, making it the most sampled first Sunday in Summer Olympics history.

For the record books, the NBC broadcast network averaged 30.4 million viewers Sunday in prime time -- actually from 7 to 11:45 p.m. That's the best prime-time average audience through the first Sunday for a non-U.S. Summer Games since Montreal in 1976, when the words "audience fragmentation" had not yet become the most feared phrase in the executive suites of the networks.

Time for the NBC Fine Print: The 107 million viewers who sampled the Games on one of the NBC Universal networks -- NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, Oxygen (yes, really), etc. -- and the 81 million who checked out the NBC broadcast network in prime time Sunday are "reach" figures and measure anyone who watched as little as six minutes of a telecast. These are of great bragging interest to the network presenting big-ticket programs such as the Olympics; they're also of enormous interest to advertisers. That's because conventional wisdom says anyone who watches six minutes of a telecast probably was subjected to an ad break.

The 30.4 million who watched NBC represents the "average audience," meaning the average number of viewers watching each minute. That's the standard typically used to discuss programming on television.
I know that's confusing (to me too), so I asked a friend in the "business" to break it down. Here's what I gathered.....Reach figures really mean nothing to advertisers. They'd rather know the average audience because that calculation, once broken down, can show you just about how many people have been exposed to your ad.

It seems odd to me that a network would continue to be shady with figures even though they're close to setting all sorts of records. If you add to the television coverage, the success of the live online content , the whole package has been an overwhelming success. It'll be interesting to take a look again when all the numbers are in.

[/nerdiness]

Edwards's Mea Culpa Merits a Mere Blip Against NBC and Beijing (Washington Post)

Posted by Awful Announcing- at 3:38 PM

8 Comments:

And I believe that NBC said that over a BILLION people watched the US/China hoops game. Now, come on!

GMoney said...
Aug 12, 2008, 4:17:00 PM  

I like the subtle irony in the spelling of "accuarte". Is that akin to "nuklur"?

Seth said...
Aug 12, 2008, 6:10:00 PM  

A lot of people on the west coast are upset about not getting any live content. Our local cable company (and online provider) in Kentucky has decided to block online content to stream to our computers because they declined to pay the outrageous streaming fee.

Seems to me that China is influencing NBC's reporting of the numbers. Just like everything else.

Taylor said...
Aug 12, 2008, 8:18:00 PM  

Maybe their ratings would be a little higher if we got to see something live on the west coast. I remember them pulling this shit on the 2000 Olympics, the first with real status during the internet age. I don't remember the 2004 Olympics because nobody remembers them, but really in 2008 they're still pulling this tape delay crap? Why am I going to watch a tape delayed Michael Phelps race when I can read who won 3 hours in advance and watch the clip 500 times the next day on ESPN?

Pablo Goldstein said...
Aug 12, 2008, 8:34:00 PM  

why arent they showing it live on the west coast? running from five until nine loses what, the local news and maybe friends reruns before that? what the fuck, sucks for you

Mike Georger said...
Aug 12, 2008, 10:06:00 PM  

Like the roided up athletes they are showing, NBC's ratings are all "doped up".

Anonymous said...
Aug 12, 2008, 10:21:00 PM  

It's nothing unique to the Olympics--NBC does this for everything. Their commercials claim 70 million people watch America's Got Talent--does anyone believe that?

Eric said...
Aug 12, 2008, 10:40:00 PM  

Maybe they should consider stopping showing constant coverage of Chinese athletes, and being a World Network, rather than an American network.

If they want to leave the country and set up their business in China, more power to them.

hollywood wags said...
Aug 13, 2008, 8:26:00 AM  

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