Why Watch the Games on NBC When You Can Click?
Last week NBC celebrated its first week as the most-watched network since June. According to Nielsen, NBC dominated the Sept. 11-17 week with its largest weekly audience (16.57 million) and rating (6.3) since October. However, NBC could be in some trouble with advertisers. While last week marked a large overall audience, TV ratings have been lagging through the four nights of the Olympics. After coughing up $705 million in rights fees, NBC averaged only a 14.3 national rating with a 25 share, well below the final number produced by any Summer Games and 11% short of what the network promised advertisers. Monday night's telecast, featuring swimming and the men's team gymnastics final, drew a 13.8 rating and 23 share - 40% below what NBC got for the equivalent day in Atlanta. The network will most likely add extra commercials to its broadcasts to satisfy advertisers, although NBC's original plan was to air 18 ads per hour. That's one less ad than during the Atlanta Olympics.
The drop in ratings comes as no surprise. NBC decision not to broadcast the Sydney Games live, accounting for the 15 hour time difference between Sydney and the U.S., has allowed the web to jump in and grab hold of a large portion of the Olympic watching audience.
Even though website reporters are forbidden access to the games, the restriction hasn't hurt their ability to provide surfers with instantaneous coverage. NBC's own site, NBCOlympics.com, attracted 1.2 million unique visitors last week, up 400% from the week before, according to Media Metrix. But other sites, including ESPN.com, CBS.Sportsline.com and CNNSI.com have been challenging NBC. The most visited site has been the official site of the International Olympic Committee, Olympics.com. Media Metrix reported that Olympics.com engaged 675,000 unique surfers in the U.S. The site has seen 1.9 billion hits since Friday, making it one of the most popular online sports-event sites in the history of the web. And why should anyone watch the games 15 hours after they happen when they see it as it happens with one click of the mouse?
- MediaPost Staff Reporter Anya Khait may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org