Skip to comments.Fewer Viewers Light Up Olympic Torch for NBC (tiny violin Alert)
Posted on 08/16/2004 6:52:01 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - NBC's broadcast of the 2004 Olympics has gotten off to as bumpy a start as the U.S. Olympic team itself, with prime-time ratings for the first three days of the Summer Games down slightly from four years ago, according to figures released on Monday.
NBC's prime-time Olympics coverage still towered over the usual summer sitcoms, reality shows and reruns offered on rival U.S. networks during the first three days of the Athens Games, posting a hefty household rating of 14.1 and a full quarter share of all viewers watching TV on those evenings.
But compared with the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia -- the lowest-rated Olympics in more than 30 years -- prime-time ratings for Friday through Sunday in Athens were off 3 percent, though Sunday evening alone posted a year-to-year gain, Nielsen Media Research reported.
A rating point is equal to 1 percent of the 108.4 million U.S. households with TV sets.
NBC's telecast of the opening ceremonies -- a showpiece event that sets the tone of Olympics coverage and typically attracts higher ratings than the first two weekend days of competition -- drew an average audience of 25 million viewers, down from 27.3 million for the Sydney Games (news - web sites), the network said, citing Nielsen data.
But NBC cheered its own performance, focusing on a broader gauge of viewership -- the total number of individuals who tuned in to some portion of the broadcast, regardless of when.
By that measure, about 56 million viewers saw at least some of the nearly four-hour spectacle of Greek gods, chiseled athletes and spectacular fireworks that kicked off the Summer Games in the ancient capital.
"With the average American television household having 25 more channels to choose from than it did four years ago, it feels great to be right on the viewership levels of Sydney's Opening Ceremony," Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Universal Sports and Olympics, said in a statement.
Among all U.S. households with TV sets, NBC's ratings for Friday and Saturday night were down from the same nights four years ago, each by about 11 percent. Sunday was a better day for the network, though, as prime-time ratings rose nearly 6 percent over 2000.
The Olympics got off to a somewhat disappointing start for the United States, with a stunning loss by the basketball "Dream Team" to Puerto Rico and American athletes clinching fewer gold medals overall than at the same point four years ago.
Attendance in Athens has been disappointing, too, as organizers fell short of promises to sell about 65 percent of a total 5.2 million tickets to events by the games' opening, though stands at some events were still barely half full.
While ratings were flat to lower, U.S. TV critics were generally pleased with Friday's opening event, including those jaundiced by the Olympics' increasing commercialism.
"Even with all the bluster and bloat -- beginning with the strains of the 'Jurassic Park' theme that opened NBC's coverage -- the Games themselves remain hard to screw up, fueled by the noble ideal of seeing the world compete in sporting arenas, not on battlefields," Daily Variety's Brian Lowry wrote on Monday.
"After some second-guessing about their preparedness, the Greeks clearly rallied to the task before them, delivering an Opening Ceremony that met the high standard for these spectacles," Lowry said.
But others could not resist digging at the games' sponsored nature -- especially with NBC saying Friday it had reached a goal of $1 billion in advertising commitments.
"Welcome to Greece. Home of Eros, the God of Love; Zeus, the God of the Heavens; Visa, the God of Debt; and Nike, the God of Shoes We Want," wrote the Los Angeles Times' Paul Brownfield, in opening his review.
NBC has said it expects the 2004 games to be as profitable as Sydney, a figure sources have pegged at around $50 million.
NBC, and its sister networks carrying Olympic coverage, are units of NBC Universal, part of General Electric Co.
NBCaC --- Nothing But Couric and Costa
The Sydney games broadcast was just awful.
Every 5 minutes another stupid Human Interest Story.
This year there are far less. Maybe it's what the people want?
At least the frequent commercial breaks are not very long.
Not their fault. This is the most boring Olympics I have ever casually watched.
I love the Olympics, but I am afraid I might have to see Katie Couric.
The problem is the Olympics stopped being the Olympics when it became a professional tournament instead of an amateur competition. There's no longer any excitement in it, no longer the sense of people with an ordinary background doing their best to become champions. When you're a pro, the achievement just not quite there. They'll never get back to where they were but when you play to empty stadiums and ever dwindling TV viewers, you've got a problem. The IOC may just be too hide-bound a bureaucracy to deal with the crisis in world sports.
When I want to view an event, I want to watch all of it. Every single athlete as they compete.
Highlights and human interest stories are not what I want to view.
She hasn't been anywhere since the opening ceremony.
Why would I want to watch reruns narrated by leftists like Costas and Couric? I'd rather watch live events. In fact, if the price weren't too high, I would pay to be able to watch events live without cutting from one event to another just to see the American competitors. I really don't like having to just see the highlights.
Knowing the results makes me not care a whole lot about watching the games. NBC should be showing live events when they happen. If they want to package up some off hour stuff for prime time I can understand that, but with seeing results on the net, the suspense of the events just isn't there...
They've cut down on the human interest stories tremendously.
I haven't watched anything on NBC in more years than I can count.
I looked in for the first time today and it was a women's field hockey team with Japan vs. Argentina. I didn't know people played hockey on grass, and if they're going to start putting in everything, a Frisbee Throwing event would be more interesting.:)
Granted, maybe it was because I was in college at the time, but I was more absorbed back in 1984. Since then, I've watched some in the summer, but I think I've watched more winter stuff.
They had a pay-per-view package like that in 1992 that NBC lost over $100 million on. I personally paid for that package and enjoyed the coverage. I really don't understand why that cost so much to do considering that the camera crews already cover all the sports for the various TV networks around the world. I would much rather see the live events than the overly processed reruns.
Guess why? It's boring. Who wants to watch an hour of synchronized springboard jumping together with underwater shots. (Wow! Underwater cameras?) Who wants to watch more basketball when they see it all year long? Idiotic, ignorant, intrusive commentary, commercial breaks on top of commercila breaks. Oh what fun!
The Olympics doesn't start until next week when the athletics gets going.
No offence to the very fit people participating in synchronised diving, and beach volley ball - but in fairness, it's not exactly 'faster, higher, stronger'.
Well, at least not for me.
I hate it when that happens.
NBC= Nothing But (Olympic) Clips!
Their coverage is sporadic and splattered over half-a-dozen cable channels (which are not on all cable services). It is difficult to find and keep up with what's going on.
Their NBC network is recorded. Their cable stuff may be live.
You would think that they could have at least one Internet streaming feed.
I was a pretty good field hockey player in school. And I have the scars to prove it! ;-)
Watching the Magic Johnson and company basketball fiasco was the end of the Olympics for me. I was embarassed to admit those fools were my fellow citizens. Talk about an ugly American moment!
1. Stayed in the best available hotel sweet, no Olympic village for them
2. Showed up at the court just in time to play and rake in the medals
3. Trounced third world nation's amatures into the dirt
4. Bumped traditional field of US players who should have had a chance to compete
As others have mentioned, those human interest stories are downright unbearable. I never knew there was so much tragedy out there, until I noticed that every olympic participant was a candidate for worst possible tragedy of the decade, all stars!
Then they managed to top it all, with Katie Kourick and Bob Costas. I'd rather take a shovel and have my wife hit me with it rather than watch this drek.
The last reason I don't watch, is that I hate what the olympics has become so much, I find myself almost rooting that our team won't win.
That's when you know it's time to pick up a ball, any ball, and go outside for a higher level of sport than you'll see on NBC.
I looked this morning for the first time and it was Women's trap shooting. Plus excessive commentary about our one-eyed participant and her poster of Annie Oakley (I liked that) in her bedroom in Alabama.
Unfortunately, like all of American television it's all aimed at the lowest common denominator. Just watch an hour of it, watch the commercials and take an easy guess who their target audience might be...
That's like the tennis.
Professional players shouldn't compete in the Olympics. Makes a mockery of the whole concept.
And besides, there are nations like Ireland where there is no Government funded sports programmes, and no professional sponsorship. Our kids who go to the Olympics (I'm talking about the ones NOT taking drugs! Michelle Smith was a complete embarrassment) who cannot compete against professionals. They just can't.
I don't know how ANYONE can watch TV in the US.
I understand that advertising pays the bills etc...but, it's mind-numbing.
At least in Ireland you'll only have a maximum of four ad breaks an hour.
I agree completely. The loss of amature status, was key.
When I was seventeen, I joined my mom's bowling league to fill a slot. We hadn't done much together in life, and I joined.
Toward the end of the season, I was in line to win some hokey trophy. I was bowling against a bunch of older ladies and I didn't want the thing. Then my mom was contacted by league staff.
As it turns out, I could not accept that trophy or it would eliminate my amature athletics status. I would never be able to compete on the amature level again.
My how things have changed.
There was a real purity in a guy going out and holding off to become a pro, to compete one more time at the amature level in the olympics. That charm has turned into a steaming pile of pasture pies, IMO.
I hear you. Those are the reasons folks. Get the olympics back to amature status, knock of the hero-building moments, and commercialize it to a certain extent, but quit trying to sqeeze every last nickle out of them.
I read where you can only enter the events with the right name brand soft drink, and people are actually being screened. Excuse me while I go hurl.
How about we combine the Olympics with Christmas?
Sure , as long as it's In Cambodia. lol
There's a guy in my town, who has run on the Ireland relay team.
He was working as a plasterer during the day, and then running at night.
When he had a shot at making an Olympics team, he quit his job. Did he get sponsorship? Yeah, a few local companies threw him a couple of quid to help him live - he might have fundraised $20,000 for his years training.
That was it.
He ran in the last Olympics.
He didn't win anything. And he's back plastering houses now. But he did his best, and he fulfilled the dream of an amateur athlete.
I know I'm proud of him.
And he's now out training junior athletes every night, after work, encouraging them with a dream of running in the Olympics.
Pardon my lack of knowledge, it's just that I hadn't heard of field hockey in Texas or from my East coast and West coast relatives. And also Texas is late to even ice hockey, it requires in-door ice rinks with HUGE freezing units to creat an environment we never see naturally, and besides, hockey had always been associated with Yankees and Canucks. And since, the national sport of Texas is football it's understandable that grass hockey has not yet caught on here.:)
I'm sure you were good at it and I'd bet getting hit with one of those paddle-things would hurt!
Thank you for the nice note. Great story.
Wow, that is different. Here, we have four program breaks per hour.
I was convent educated here in Ireland.
Getting hit by a paddle was an every day happening, normally felt during maths class.
Playing hockey was childs play by comparison! *L*
So, someone's not going to watch the remaining 15 days of the Olympics, because she was on day one...
Olympics? Did the games begin already? And who is NBC?
Are ye being sarcastic?
I hear ya..
I'm watching the cheese heads take a pounding by the Seahawks.. ;-)
The Olympics never really held any fascination with me except in '84, and nobody can ever come close to ABC's coverage.
I remember Innsbruck ,, Munich ,, LA ,, Tokyo best
I was just 16 in '72, and remember Munich somewhat, but I suppose I wasn't old enough to appreciate the ramifications of it all.
I do remember McKay saying "they're all gone".
Im a year ahead of ya.. I was 17, watched a couple nights of the downhill at this cheerleader's house by the fire.. well, sort of watched it. ;-)
Awesome picture, but unfortunately about 24 hours too late. NBC really screwed this one up IMHO. If they'd broadcast the Olympics in HD at the same time as their SD coverage, I'd be all over it. As it is, a full day delay is just ridiculous. You'd have to live in a hole not to hear who won what from the day before, so it's not worth watching at all. Their HD coverage is just pretty pictures with all the drama & mystery removed. Boring.