Olympics Opening Night Ratings Lowest Since 1992 for NBC

By Chris Ariens 

The Olympics got off to a rocky start for NBC. The Opening ceremony, hosted by the Today’s show’s Matt Lauer, Hoda Kotb and Meredith Vieira was NBC’s lowest-rated opening ceremony since the Barcelona games in 1992.

From the Television Critics Association press tour, Adweek’s Jason Lynch, reports the reaction and ratings both lagged for the opening ceremony. In metered market ratings, the Rio opener drew a 17.2 rating in prime time (8-11 p.m.), 28 percent below the London 2012 opener.

NBC Sports said the overnight rating peaked at 19.0 from 10 p.m. to 10:15 p.m., when Team USA marched in, which was an hour earlier than during the London opening ceremony. Earlier this week, NBC Olympics executive producer Jim Bell denied reports that NBC tried to get the IOC to change the opening ceremony running order, moving the introduction of Team USA to the end to increase ratings for the full broadcast.

Much of the criticism was about the number of commercial interruptions. NBC told Adweek it did add a few more ads “earlier in the show so that we can afford time later in the show to present as much of the ceremony as we can.” A spokesperson also said “consumption habits, such as binge-watching and ‘marathoning,’ have changed perceptions among the viewing audience regarding commercials.”