NBC viewership for Winter Olympics in South Korea could be worst ever

NBC viewership for Winter Olympics in South Korea could be worst ever
Reports say viewership for this year's Olympics is shaping up to be the worst-ever. (RomoloTavani/Getty Images)

Viewership for the PyeongChang Olympic Games is shaping up to be the lowest-ever, Deadline Hollywood reported.

How low did it go?

Yesterday marked the last Friday of the Olympics, and the combined primetime coverage for NBC and NBCSN earned a 9.2/16 in metered market results. The figure is an all-time Olympic low and is likely to be the worst-ever, Deadline Hollywood reported.

Not even an appearance by first daughter Ivanka Trump and others from the United States delegation could boost the bottom line for NBC primetime ratings, the report stated.

“And bottom is the operative word today as Olympics fatigue has definitely set-in for the final stretch of the 2018 international competition for the Comcast-owned outlet,” according to Deadline Hollywood.

How much has NBC invested in Olympics rights?

In 2011, NBC paid $4.38 billion for the rights to the next four Olympics. And in 2015, it paid $7.7 billion for another six years, CNN reported.

The Olympics have long been regarded as a boon for TV networks. But now, not so much. Fewer young people are watching TV but live sports area always a draw, or at least that’s what NBC was banking on, the report stated.

By some accounts, viewership for the winter games is down 24 percent from the 2014 Sochi Olympics games, among viewers between ages 18 to 49, according to CNN. That demographic is regarded as the most-coveted by advertisers.

NBC defends the figures, nothing that when viewers from both NBC and the NBC Sports Network are compiled, it’s really a 15 percent drop, the report states. But views for the opening ceremony were also down — 8.6 percent from four years ago.

But over the past two years, sports have also fallen as the TV industry overall struggles to increase viewers. Viewers of the last consecutive Summer and Winter Games have dropped. Similarly, ratings for the NFL have fallen.

The trend has been happening for some time.

In 2012, NBC reportedly had to offer free ad time because initial ads didn’t reach the agreed upon number of viewers.

TV networks make money from advertising and “retransmission” fees it charges cable providers and local stations to air its content, CNN stated. Networks can more easily project retransmission fees because they’re built into budgets. Advertising, in contrast, is less secure in today’s changing media environment.

NBC is owned Comcast and has national ad sales that increased from $800 million from Sochi to $920 million this year.

In an interview with CNBC, Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said he would “absolutely” renew or extend NBC’s Olympics contract.

“Our long-term Olympic rights agreement is the best in all of media,” he said.

Still, there is no way to tell if this year’s poor ratings will impact profitability in the coming years, CNN noted.