The Olympics are one of the most highly-anticipated events of the summer. The 2016 Games will be taking place in Rio starting in the beginning of August, and millions of Americans should be tuning in to NBC to cheer for the best athletes that our nation has to offer. NBC is hoping that some original shows will benefit from all the extra viewers. An episode of Superstore and The Voice each will air after the Olympics on designated nights to potentially give a big boost thanks to viewers sticking around after sports coverage.
Superstore and The Voice will have special half-hour time slots in the final week of the Olympics to try and draw big numbers. Superstore's episode will air on Friday, August 19 as a special installment with a storyline directly related to the Olympics. A standalone Olympics storyline makes sense considering that Season 2 of Superstore isn't set to premiere until September 22. The episode of The Voice airs on Sunday, August 21 and opens the blind auditions that will get into swing in the fall. New coaches Alicia Keys and Miley Cyrus will join Blake Shelton and Adam Levine. Both episodes will air at 10:30 p.m. ET after Olympics coverage.
The Voice episode will hit the airwaves directly after the Olympics closing ceremony, so the odds are pretty good that plenty of folks will be in front of their TVs. Airing on a Friday toward the end of the Olympics could deliver ratings that would make all the difference for Superstore in the fall.
The last couple of Summer Olympics have brought in huge numbers for NBC. The 2008 Olympics in Beijing set a record as the most-watched TV event in U.S. history with 211 million viewers over the 16 days of the games. The opening ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics drew in 40.7 million viewers in one night alone.
The network has had some success in the past with securing impressive audiences in post-Olympic time slots. Matthew Perry's short-lived sitcom Go On aired a preview after a night of the 2012 coverage that attracted 16.1 million viewers. Unfortunately for Perry, Go On was cancelled after only one season, but the first night of success for the show does bode well for Superstore and The Voice.
NBC has been the American broadcaster of the Olympics since 1988, and the rights to the coverage haven't come cheap. In 2011, NBC signed on for $4.38 billion to broadcast the Olympics through 2020, then upped the ante in 2014 with $7.75 billion for the rights to the Olympics through 2032. For NBC's sake, I hope Superstore and The Voice do well in their special episodes.
Of course, the Games may be in trouble before the opening ceremony ever makes it to the airwaves. The threat of the Zika virus already has certain athletes and members of the media pulling out of attendance. The World Health Organization has even been asked to consider delaying the Games until Zika isn't quite so serious a threat. Only time will tell if NBC will get to air the Olympics as planned and reap the benefits of high ratings for Superstore and The Voice.