NBC Dominated Prime Time on Sunday With Its Winter Olympics Coverage

Viewership was down 1 percent from the same day of the 2014 Games

Viewership peaked at 29.7 million during the team figure skating competition. Getty Images
Headshot of A.J. Katz

NBC executives will be likely be content with ratings for the first weekend of its 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics coverage, particularly its Total Audience Delivery, or TAD, on Sunday.

NBC Olympics posted a TAD of 26 million viewers Sunday in prime time (7 p.m. to 11 p.m.). That was down 1 percent from the first Sunday of the 2014 Olympics.

Of the 26 million viewers across broadcast, cable and digital platforms, 22.7 million watched on NBC. Perhaps most notably, for NBC was that the Olympics outperformed the combined Sunday prime-time delivery of ABC, Fox and CBS by 140 percent, marking NBC’s largest margin of victory over its broadcast network rivals on a Winter Olympics Sunday night ever.

Prime-time viewership for the Pyeyongchang Games has moved closer to the 2014 Sochi viewership on a night-to-night basis, going from being down 14 percent on the opening Thursday night versus the same night of the 2014 Games, to being down just 1 percent on Sunday versus the first Sunday of the 2014 Games.

NBC’s TAD metric, which measures average minute viewing on NBCSN and NBC Sports digital platforms, provided an Olympics-record 15 percent lift on Sunday night. Nielsen out-of-home data, also part of the TAD metric, will be available later this week.

Millions watched a U.S. figure skating team that included Adam Rippon, Mirai Nagasu, Maia and Alex Shibutani, and Nathan Chen earn a bronze medal. Nagasu was the first U.S. woman to successfully land a triple axel in an Olympic event, with viewership peaking at 29.7 million viewers during the women’s free skate portion of the event. (Canada won gold, and the Olympic Athletes From Russia earned silver.)

All skiing competitions were canceled due to high winds, meaning viewers who expected to see women’s giant slalom gold medalist Mikaela Shffrin begin her quest to defend her 2014 title will have to wait until later in the week.

The previous night, NBC posted a TAD of 24.2 million viewers, per Nielsen live-plus-same-day data and digital data from Adobe analytics.

That’s a 4 percent decline from the network’s first-Saturday prime-time coverage of Sochi 2014, which hauled in 25.1 million total viewers.

Out of the 24.2 million viewer delivery, 21.4 million watched Saturday prime-time action on NBC only, which means the TAD metric provided a 13 percent lift to the NBC total.

The Saturday prime-time action was highlighted by 17-year-old American Red Gerard’s gold medal performance in men’s slopestyle.

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