Apparently Salt Lake City loves the Olympics. The Utah city has posted the top overall (all nights combined) local market rating for the last seven Games, and as Austin Karp writes in Sports Business Journal, that trend is on pace to continue. 

Through five nights of NBC primetime coverage (Friday through Tuesday), Salt Lake has posted the top local rating four times, only being narrowly edged out by West Palm Beach for Friday’s opening ceremonies. It drew a particularly impressive 30.6 on Tuesday night. Overall, Salt Lake City is averaging a 22.7, and Denver is second with a 21.2. (Denver also tied Salt Lake City for the 17-night lead during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.) It’s interesting that western cities, where NBC’s prime-time delays have been the most obvious, are leading the way in the ratings.

However, it’s also notable that the ratings are well behind what they were in 2012, even in strongholds like Salt Lake City and Denver. At the same point in the London Games, Salt Lake City was in first with an average rating of 27.1, while Kansas City (currently eighth with an 18.6) was second with a 25.4 and Denver was third with a 25.2. That’s despite executives and marketers coming into these Olympics with so much optimism given the lesser time difference compared to London. So far, the TV ratings have been much worse. NBC executives aren’t complaining too much, though, and their bottom line seems to be just fine:

NBC is seeing large rises in streaming numbers, so that (and the ads sold there) is helping to make up for some of the drop-off in primetime. (It’s notable that they’re streaming more content and that their streaming content is more available through a wide variety of devices and apps now.)

Overall, there are too many variables here to clearly determine what’s affecting the ratings. Primetime ratings may be down because of people preferring live streaming, or because of distaste for the way NBC is handling its primetime broadcasts (jumping from event to event and often missing sports moments to insert commercials and profile pieces), or they may be down over the widely-reported issues in Rio, or just even over less interest in these Games in general. As long as advertisers are still willing to pay and to pay big, though, and whether that’s for primetime ads, daytime coverage ads, streaming ads or some of all of the above, don’t expect NBC’s handling of the Olympics to change.

[Sports Business Daily]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.

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