Competing Cable Networks Hurt During Olympic Coverage

NBCUniversal’s Rio Olympics may have not achieved the same broadcast viewing heights as the London Olympics four years before, but it had a noticeable negative effect on competing cable and other networks.

Cable networks sank 13% in August prime-time ratings in C3 ratings among 18-49 viewers to 14.8 million -- down from the 8% drop in August of a year ago, according to MoffettNathanson Research. Total day 18-49 C3 ratings were down 9% for last month to 9.3 million.

MoffettNathanson Research says “media peer groups were less impacted by these Olympics compared to the 2012 London Games.”

All major cable TV network groups suffered viewing losses during the Rio games -- except NBCU’s networks in daytime, which grew 5% in C3 ratings. This was partly due to daytime Olympic programming, as well as higher numbers on MSNBC.



Nielsen C3 numbers are the average commercial rating, plus three days of time-shifted programming.

In prime time, NBCUniversal was the best of the bunch -- down 5%. Time Warner and Viacom each lost 9%, while Scripps Networks Interactive sank 11%; Fox cable networks gave up 16%; A+E also went backward 16%; Discovery lost 17%; Disney was down 25, and AMC Networks dropped 35%.

Broadcast networks -- with the help of NBC’s big two-week Olympics programming coverage -- were up 90% versus August of a year ago to average 8.9 million 18-49 prime-time viewers, up 56% in total day 18-49 viewing to 4.7 million.

While the NBC broadcast network itself was up nearly 300% versus last August in 18-49 prime-time viewers -- to 5.9 million -- according to other estimates, it was down nearly 30% from the London Olympics 2012 among 18-49 viewers. It was also down 15% in overall total average viewers.

NBC executives says when looking at all its networks' Olympics programming, it was down “single digits” versus London.

During August, ABC was down 10% in prime time to average 963,000 18-49 C3 viewers; CBS losing 19% to 961,000; and Fox giving up 22% to 683,000.

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