Feb 25, 2010
NBCU and the Winter Olympics, Financial Bust?
For the first three days of coverage for the Winter Games live from Vancouver, the network averaged 28.6 million viewers per day, a 25 percent jump from the 2006 Torino Games. Including viewers who at least sampled (watched for at least six minutes,) NBC had an audience of 117 million viewers throughout the first three days of coverage.
The average is the highest non-U.S. Winter Games rating since 1994's Lillehammer Games, which received a nice boost in viewership after figure skater Tonya Harding and her intellectually challenged husband conspired to whack fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan on the knee.
The horrific death of Georgian luge racer Nodar Kumaritashvili during a training run on Friday may have also helped boost viewership of the Olympic Games opening weekend.
With a 26.2 million viewer average, NBC over the first eight nights of the Vancouver Games scored a 27% jump from the 20.7 million from Torino, and are the most for a non-U.S. Winter Olympics since CBS posted 38.3 million for the tabloid-fueled Lillehammer Games in 1994
Still, NBC Universal expects to lose around $250 million on its Olympic Coverage due to slow ad sales and overpayment for the rights to broadcast the games. NBCU paid $820 million for the TV rights to the Vancouver Games and is only expecting to bring in around $670 million in advertising revenue.
At $500K to $600K per minute in prime time, $250M is a lot of ground to make up. I think that NBC did a great job on the Winter Games, and I hope that they did better than the above predictions. I will be sorry when the games are over.