NBC Olympics Tuesday Ratings Were Down From 2014, but Streaming Figures Were Huge

Digital delivered its largest prime-time audience for the 2018 games

Viewership peaked during Shaun White's gold medal run. Getty Images
Headshot of A.J. Katz

Millions tuned in to NBC’s Olympics coverage on Tuesday night to see snowboarding icon Shaun White win his third Winter Olympics gold medal, which consequently gave Team USA its 100th all-time winter gold.

Per Nielsen live-plus-same-day data and digital data from Adobe Analytics, NBC Olympics’ Tuesday prime-time coverage posted a Total Audience Delivery of 22.6 million viewers, of which 21.5 million watched on NBC only. That means there was a 5 percent lift in total audience due to the TAD metric, which measures broader consumption by calculating average-minute viewing across NBC, cable and digital platforms.

The 22.6 million TAD is down 5 percent from the comparable first Tuesday of the 2014 Winter Games. The 2014 Sochi Games had no simultaneous livestreaming and no competing prime-time Olympics coverage on cable.

Tuesday’s viewing on broadcast (NBC) and cable (NBCSN) peaked at 28.2 million viewers from 10-10:15 p.m. ET, highlighted by White’s gold medal run in the halfpipe and the pairs figure skating short program.

Salt Lake City was the top-rated market on Tuesday night, followed by Denver, Kansas City, Minneapolis and Milwaukee.

Despite the ratings decline from Sochi, NBC appears to be confident right now. On Tuesday afternoon, NBC broadcasting and sports chairman Mark Lazarus told reporters ratings for the first five days of the Pyeongchang Games exceeded advertiser guarantees, and Adweek reported that the network is taking a portion of ad inventory it had held back for makegoods and heading back into the market for new business during the games.

The announcement came hours before White won his third Olympic gold. Lindsay Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin haven’t even hit the Pyeongchang slopes yet, and their competitions should also draw large ratings.

Shiffrin is expected to make her Pyeongchang Olympics debut tonight in the women’s giant slalom, weather permitting.

Taking TAD into account, 22.3 million viewers watched NBC Olympics coverage on Monday night, down less than 1 percent from the first Monday in 2014, which drew 22.4 million viewers on NBC.

The TAD metric provided a double-digit lift (10 percent) over the NBC-only network audience.

Monday was the first night during these games that Salt Lake City was not the No. 1 market. That honor went to Denver, which posted a 25.7 metered-market rating. Salt Lake finished at No. 2 (23.0), followed by Kansas City (21.1), Milwaukee (20.2) and Minneapolis (19.6).

The Monday night coverage was highlighted by 17-year-old Chloe Kim’s extraordinary gold-medal-winning performance in the women’s halfpipe competition, with viewership on broadcast and cable peaking at 26.9 million viewers from 9:15-9:30 p.m. ET as the young American made her final run.

@ajkatztv aj.katz@adweek.com A.J. Katz is the senior editor of Adweek's TVNewser.