Primetime Olympics coverage drops 7% from Sochi

Numbers show spike in late-night viewership because of time difference in Pyeongchang

A security person stands near the Olympic flags during a ceremony to mark the start of the flag’s tour for the Winter Olympic Games Beijing 2022 at a section of the Great Wall of China on Tuesday. (Ng Han Guan/Ap Photo)

NBC finished the Pyeongchang Olympics by averaging just under 20 million viewers with its primetime coverage on the network, NBCSN cable and live streaming, which was a seven-per-cent decline from the Winter Olympics of 2014.

The Nielsen company said the NBC-only average in primetime was 17.8 million, or a 17-per-cent decline from Sochi. In 2014, NBC only offered primetime coverage on the network, and did not have simultaneous programming on cable and online.

NBC said the viewership helped make the Olympics profitable. Viewership started out stronger than executives expected at the beginning of the Olympics and faded toward the end.

One growth area in Pyeongchang was in the late-night time period. Because of the time difference, post-11:30 p.m. was filled with live competition. NBC’s late-night show averaged 8.4 million viewers, up from 5.6 million in Sochi and more than any other Winter Olympics since 1988.

In a reflection of how traditional television viewership is changing, NBC said the primetime Olympic coverage throughout the Olympics (19.8 million) essentially doubled the viewership of ABC, CBS and Fox combined during that period.

The Olympics dominated TV: No other program beat it in the ratings while the games were on. In contrast, during the 2006 Olympics, the games were the night’s top-rated program on only eight of 17 nights.

David Bauder, The Associated Press

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