prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Gold medal ratings for NBC

Posted by prof e on August 21, 2008

2008 Olympics in Beijing

2008 Olympics in Beijing

Twenty years ago this month I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with NBC Sports in their coverage of the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea. I, along with the rest of the technical team, worked 32 days straight, between 12-16 hours per day. It was grueling but fun, and exciting to be a part of the biggest broadcast event in history. Every four years the Summer Olympic games are the biggest broadcast event in history…and this year is no exception. Back in 1988 we were excited to be part of the team offering up more than 180 hours of television coverage. This year they will broadcast 3,600 hours of the Olympics on seven networks — NBC, USA Network, MSNBC, CNBC, Oxygen, Telemundo and Universal HD, as well as streaming video on the Internet and to mobile devices. Just to put that in perspective, NBC reports that the 2008 coverage will exceed, by more than 1000 hours, the combined coverage of every Summer Olympics from Rome 1960 to Athens 2004.

In addition to the expansion of coverage, this year has seen a big increase in the size of the audience. According to NBC, approximately 157 million people, about half the U.S. population, watched some Olympic action in the first several days. In addition, Nielsen Media Research reports that NBC Universal’s Beijing Olympic coverage was the most-watched event in U.S. television history with more than 214 million total viewers. Starting with the opening ceremonies, TV ratings records have been falling like world records in the Water Cube. Some are calling it the Phelps effect. With 8 gold medals and 7 world records, Michael Phelps is certainly attracting TV, and web, viewers. Visitors to viewed 1.1 million streams of the 400 meter freestyle relay in which the US came from behind to win the gold. (For more audience research on the 2008 games, visit the Nielsen website. See especially the Special Report: The Olympics’ Impact on Advertising and The Media)

NBC is hoping that they can turn those viewers into advertising revenue. After paying nearly $900 million for the rights to broadcast the Beijing Olympics to the American audience, NBC is working overtime to turn sports drama into dollars. And there appears to be no end in sight for rising costs. NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol (no “e” = no relation, I’m sorry to report) has also secured the rights to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London for a reported $1.181 billion. Makes you wonder how they ever hope to recoup that kind of money.


2 Responses to “Gold medal ratings for NBC”

  1. Alex Timmons said

    Mornin Prof, good to see your back at it. The following comment is not meant to be and indictment of the latest blog post, but rather another bitter personal observation.

    It’s not surprising to learn that more folks are tuning in to the olympic games this year. After all, what else do we have? In terms of world competition, we Americans are falling far short in nearly all aspects of intellectual pursuit – yet he with the biggest stick wins, right? When all else fails, no one can surpass the modern, dominant super power in nationalistic pride! And we can always rely on physical prowess and spectacles of brute military force to keep evils of terrorism and communism at bay!

    I’m not a numbers guy, but it’s safe to assume that now, approximately 157 million people, about half the U.S. population, can speak about Michael Phelps’ amazing and utterly useless accomplishments with the fanatical zeal of your typical couch potato or internet junkie. Laughably, and sadly, maybe only few thousand within that same audience can tell you whose record(s) Michael Phelps actually beat. The point(lessness) of these games should be obvious. The accomplishments are very likely to be forgotten within eight years.

    When thinking about this gigantic number (157 million) I wondered how many of these people could speak about the vast contributions made in benefit of humanity by Stephen Hawking, who is nothing more than a giant brain held up by a wheelchair and capable only of computerized speech. Though his audience demo number is tremendously small, comparatively speaking, Stephen Hawking is an easy name drop. How about Dean Kamen anyone? He shouldn’t be too difficult, as he appeared on The Colbert Report a few months ago.

    But perhaps I’m looking at it wrong. It’s fair to say that each of us can name a few really smart people who have made large strives toward ensuring the survival of the human race by way of scientific or technological advancment, right? However, few of these people will achieve the name recognition of this Michael Phelps character. So welcome Mr. Phelps! Welcome to my dinner table, my living room, my heart, my mind.

    I can hardly wait for the day fifteen or twenty years from now when I see you again on my TV screen in your very own reality show. You know, like that one has been, the lovable and totally relatable Bruce Jenner. That guy who won a gold medal in track, or something, who went on to settle down in Beverly Hills and marry a blonde bombshell with big tits and had some kids, then got divorced and married a brunette bomshell with big tits and had some more kids. And now that the kids are all grown up and are riding the coat tails of their parents fame and fortune, who are making sex tapes that accidently find their way to the public bringing renewed fortune and fame. What’s his show called again, oh yeah, Keeping up with the Kardashians.

    The Olympic viewership stats provide more evidence of just how voraciously the American media consumer willingly gorges at the trough of human inanity.

  2. So happy that Lindsey won the 2010 skiing gold!

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