Media top headlines August 2
In media news today, Chris Cuomo gets ripped for accusing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis of holding the U.S. ‘hostage’ to COVID, critics slam DC Mayor Muriel Bowser for violating her own mask mandate, and ABC’s political director calls out the Biden admin’s ‘confusing’ COVID messaging
NBC’s primetime coverage of the Tokyo Olympics continues to shed viewers and has lost roughly half of the audience that tuned in for the last summer games.
NBC’s average primetime audience of 14.5 million viewers through the first eight days of the Olympics and dropped a staggering 48% compared to Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and 58% from London in 2012.
The Peacock Network saw its smallest primetime Olympics audience of the Tokyo games on Friday night when 11.7 million people tuned in. The total was down 51% from the 24 million people who tuned in for the equivalent night of the Rio games and 59% compared to the 28.5 million viewers who tuned in for the comparable night of the London Olympics.
NBC’s decline among younger viewers are even more drastic, with a 67% drop for people age 12-17 and a 63% drop for adults age 18-34 compared to the Rio games.
The opening ceremony, delayed a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, drew 16.7 million viewers for NBC, the smallest audience for the network broadcast since the 1988 Seoul Games. Viewership hasn’t picked up, with everything from the time difference and COVID protocols to a lack of star power and “woke” athletes being blamed for the massive decline.
NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell insisted last week that the costly investment would be profitable despite disappointing viewership that reportedly has caused “anxiety” for the network’s advertisers.
“We had a little bit of bad luck and this drumbeat of negativity,” Shell said during an earnings call with investors.
“We got moved for a year and no spectators,” Shell continued. “This has resulted in linear ratings being probably less than we expected … We’re going to be profitable on the Olympics.”
Shell’s optimistic view came two days after Variety senior TV editor Brian Steinberg wrote that the drop has spurred “advertiser anxiety.”
“The size of the declines from the previous Rio Olympics have unnerved advertisers, who are believed to have invested more than $1.2 billion in the sports extravaganza,” Steinberg wrote. “Little surprise, then, that NBCU and several media agencies have entered into discussions for ‘make goods,’ or ad inventory that is given to sponsors when a program fails to meet its original viewership guarantees.”
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