Ratings for the First Night of NBC’s 2018 Winter Olympics Coverage Are Down From 2014

17.2 million total viewers, a 14% decline from the opening ceremony of the Sochi Games

NBCUniversal presented the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics Opening Ceremony live on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app this morning at 6 a.m. ET. (8 p.m. Korea Standard Time) NBC will broadcast an edited version of the festivities tonight at 8 p.m. ET co-hosted by Katie Couric and NBC Sports’ Mike Tirico.

But the company’s extensive coverage of the 2018 Olympics kicked off Thursday on NBC and NBCSN, live and in prime time.

Per NBC’s Total Audience Delivery (TAD) ratings, which measures linear, digital and out-of-home viewing, NBC Olympics’ Thursday prime-time coverage averaged 17.2 million viewers, 16 million if which were NBC-only viewers, meaning TAD provided an 8 percent bump to the total viewer average.

The 17.2 million represents the most-watched Thursday night program on any network in five months, but it’s down 14 percent from the first-night audience for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games (20 million viewers).

The 2014 Sochi Olympics had no simultaneous livestreaming and no competing prime-time Olympic cable coverage. Both of those platforms are included in the TAD delivery for 2018.

Nielsen out-of-home viewing data won’t be released until next week, but that should give the network an additional ratings bump, though how significant a bump remains to be seen.

Viewership on NBC and NBCSN peaked at 19.3 million total viewers from 9 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. ET, which featured Nathan Chen’s performance in the figure skating team event.

The headline events for Thursday prime time were of the figure skating variety. The team figure skating competition kicked off Thursday night, as did the men’s short program, which features popular U.S. Olympian Nathan Chen. The U.S. presently sits in second place behind Canada after the first day of that competition.

The overwhelming majority of the top-rated metered markets for NBC Olympics coverage were west of the Mississippi. The Olympics-crazed Salt Lake City DMA was once again No. 1, pulling a 17.7 metered market rating.

Salt Lake is traditionally the top-rated DMA when it comes to NBC Olympics coverage. The rest of the top 10: Sacramento, Seattle, San Diego, Portland, Denver, Los Angeles, West Palm Beach, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis.

Dan Lovinger, evp of advertising sales, NBC Sports Group, recently told Adweek’s Jason Lynch that the company isn’t revealing its TAD guarantee to advertisers, but he did say if the TAD ratings for Pyeongchang are on par with Sochi’s linear audience—where NBC averaged 21.4 million prime-time viewers—most advertiser guarantees will be met.

It remains to be seen if that figure will be met, but this isn’t exactly a spectacular start.