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.