NBC claims gold for Olympics 'bonus night,' silver for Opening Ceremony

Michelle Clancy | 10-02-2014

As The Winter Olympics officially opened in Sochi, US rights holder NBC has reported mixed fortunes for its rather expensively acquired coverage.

Viewers across the United States were introduced to three new Olympic sports — snowboarding slopeside, women's freestyle moguls and the figure skating team event — during NBC's Thursday bonus prime time coverage.

NBC garnered 20 million viewers for the 6 February broadcast of the events — launched ahead of the Opening Ceremony because of time constraints — and averaged an 11.3 household rating and 18 share, according to Nielsen. It also saw a 6 primetime rating among adults 18-49, which beat the combined total of ABC, CBS and FOX for the night in that key demographic.

But, Friday's Opening Ceremony of the Sochi Olympics snagged just 31.7 million viewers.

The bonus night broadcast was NBC's best Thursday prime time outing since the 2013 NFL season opener between the Denver Broncos and the Baltimore Ravens on 5 September 2013. Yet the Opening Ceremony did not meet expectations, falling shy of the last Winter Games Opening Ceremony in Vancouver, which brought in an average of 32.6 million viewers. NBC had an 18.5 rating for the presentation.

Even though most networks aired re-runs opposite the broadcast, the viewership numbers were merely passable and likely affected by the tape delay. NBC aired the broadcast hours after it took place (it started at 11am ET) and didn't provide a live-stream option. Nonetheless, many had already heard about the highlights thanks to news coverage and social networking outlets.