Despite Big News and Huge U.S. Wins, NBC’s Ratings Continued to Slip Wednesday

Olympics viewership down from opening week

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Even though NBC's Wednesday night Olympics coverage was packed with action and breaking news, ratings weren't particularly good for the Peacock.

NBC's prime-time broadcast delivered 20.7 million total viewers. That's a 14 percent decline from Tuesday night, a 21.5 percent decline from last Wednesday, a 29 percent decline from the same night during the London Olympics in 2012, and a 16 percent decline from the same night at the Beijing Games in 2008. The 12.3 household rating was a 14 percent decline from Tuesday, an 18.5 percent decline from the previous Wednesday, and a 27 percent decline from London.

NBC's Total Audience Delivery data provided a 7 percent lift in total viewers (22.1 million) and an 8 percent lift in household rating (13.3) from the NBC-only prime-time coverage.

Wednesday's highlights included two-time defending champion Usain Bolt advancing to the men's 200-meter final and the U.S. sweeping the podium in the women's 100-meter hurdles. Coverage on NBC concluded with the bronze medal match in women's beach volleyball, which Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross won in three sets over Brazil's Larissa and Talita. Off the field, Matt Lauer joined Bob Costas to report on the evolving story of Ryan Lochte and the Brazilian authorities.

The nighttime action on NBCSN featured a men's volleyball quarterfinal match in which Brazil defeated Argentina to move on to the finals, and a quarterfinal basketball game in which the U.S. easily beat Argentina, 105-78.

Telemundo's live coverage from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., featuring the Brazil-Honduras men's soccer semifinal, averaged 382,000 viewers and 191,000 viewers in the 18-49 demo, up 16 percent and 14 percent respectively from the comparable day in London.

NBC's 13-night 7.7 prime-time rating in the demographic more than quadruples (353 percent) the other broadcast networks combined (1.7 on ABC, CBS and FOX), the largest advantage in the first 13 days of any Olympics on record.

Through Wednesday night, viewers streamed 2.25 billion live minutes, more than 750 million minutes ahead of the combined total of all prior Olympics.

Salt Lake City (18.4) was the top market for Wednesday night coverage and has finished as the top-rated local market for each night of the Rio Olympics. Following Salt Lake City were Denver (17.8); West Palm Beach, Fla. (16.7); Columbus, Ohio (16.1) and Austin, Texas (15.9).


@ajkatztv A.J. Katz is the senior editor of Adweek's TVNewser.