NBC Gets Mixed Results for Olympic Ratings on Night 2

The network struggles, but NBCSN thrives

The opening ceremony for the 2016 Rio Olympics disappointed—in terms of rating—for NBC. Household viewership for Friday night's festivities were down 28 percent from the 2012 London Games opener. There was also criticism on social media about the network's decision to air and stream the ceremony on a one-hour delay. So what did viewership look like on the second day of the games? Results were mixed. 

NBC dominated the TV landscape for Saturday, Aug. 6th in all key categories, including total viewers. In fact, it was the most dominant Saturday night win on record as NBC beat the other English language broadcast networks in total prime-time viewership by 381 percent. That said, NBC prime-time numbers remained down relative to the first Saturday of recent Summer Games. NBC delivered 20.7 million total prime-time viewers on Saturday, a 28 percent decline from the first Saturday night of London 2012 and a 14 percent decline from the first Saturday night of Beijing 2008.

While NBC might be struggling out of the gate relative to recent Olympics, NBCSN seems to be picking up the slack early on. Saturday's full-day coverage (9 a.m.-midnight ET) on NBCSN averaged 1.8 million viewers—up 45 percent from the comparable day in 2012. Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and the rest of the U.S. Men's Basketball team beat China, a contest that delivered 3.8 million viewers—topping viewership of all London 2012 U.S. Men's Basketball games that aired on the network. U.S. Women's Soccer victory over a strong squad from France averaged 2.9 million viewers—up 19 percent from the team's second match in 2012.

The story has been a good one so far for digital. Saturday was the best day ever for NBC Olympics digital platforms, with 155 million livestreaming minutes (up 263 percent from the comparable day in 2012) and 11.3 million unique users (up 7 percent).

Salt Lake City (17.4) was the top metered market in Saturday prime time, followed by Austin (16.2), Indianapolis (15.3), Columbus and Denver (both 15.1).