NBC’s overall Olympics ratings dip despite 5.5 billion streaming minutes

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NBC’s coverage of the delayed 2021 summer Olympics in Tokyo saw a mix of good and bad news in the ratings department.

For starters, the network’s signature primetime coverage is now the second most watched show of the broadcast season — behind “Sunday Night Football.”

All told, viewers streamed a collective 5.5 billion minutes of the Olympics, scoring a big win for NBCUniversal’s Peacock streamer, which saw its busiest week since launching in April 2020.

Peacock was supposed to launch just ahead of the summer games in 20202, a carefully planned move that the pandemic made impossible. NBC went ahead with the Peacock launch — the games did not move forward that year, however.

However, those numbers were offset by a more concerning figure — the combined viewership was down 42% across TV and streaming.

The last summer Olympics, in 2016, had average 26.7 million viewers. This year’s registered just 15.5 million.

It’s worth noting that figure includes streaming — so it’s not a simple to say that viewers are abandoning traditional platforms in favor of digital ones. Rio and other previous Olympics did offer streaming options, but nowhere near the amount offered this year.

NBC served up live streaming coverage of events in the mornings along with original studio shows providing interviews, profiles and analysis.

However, the network may have stumbled in its efforts to market and organize all that content — with both listing formats and Peacock’s user interface taking heat for being confusing.

Advertisers, meanwhile, were guaranteed viewership minimums across both streaming and linear TV, but it’s not clear how much, if any, free ad time NBC will have to offer in the future to “make good” for the final ratings results.

NBC had said before that it would use Tokyo has a “jumping off” point for how it will approaching streaming the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.