London Olympics Were Most-Watched TV Event In History

By Katey Rich 2 years ago discussion comments
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If you thought everyone around you was talking about nothing but the Olympics for the last two weeks, turns out, you were probably right. NBC is reporting that 219.4 million Americans tuned in to their Olympics broadcast, topping the 215 million that turned into the 2008 Beijin Games, and making the Olympics the most-watched TV event in American history.

According to Business Week, NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus defended the network's much-derided policy of tape-delaying the most anticipated events, saying it "undeniably" helped ratings and openly speculating about tape delaying even more events, like the gold medal tennis match between Andy Murray and Roger Federer that aired live on a Sunday morning, or the Team USA basketball gold medal game. You're welcome to roll your eyes right now before moving on to the next paragraph.

NBC had initially projected lower ratings for the London Games than Beijing, but it seems obvious that emerging stars like gymnast Gabby Douglas and swimmers Ryan Lochte and Missy Franklin, in addition to returning stalwarts like Michael Phelps and the beach volleyball duo of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings, kept people engaged. The network paid $1.18 billion for the rights to broadcast the London Games, but even with more than two-thirds of Americans watching, they probably won't get that money back in advertising revenue. Instead it's more of a prestige thing-- NBC had us all watching them for two weeks straight, advertising their new fall shows nonstop, and implanting the network's name in our minds as the home for elite sports. It may be another four years before we tune in to watch them in droves, but they're counting us to remember the fun we had watching their London broadcast for two weeks-- and to come back for the Rio games in 2016.
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