NBC’s social media ‘war room’: a new weapon in Games coverage

NBC\'s social media \'war room\': a new weapon in Games coverage
Olympics Snares 22.3M Total Viewers On 1st Monday; NBC-Only Dips From Sochi Again – UPDATE
nThe Associated PressFireworks detonate after the Olympic flame was lit during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. (Sean Haffey/Pool Photo via AP) 0 Shares Email

Olympic thrills and the aftermath of a patriarch’s death on “This Is Us” combined to give NBC a golden ratings victory.

While the viewership is down, it hasn’t dropped as much as the conventional television audience. For example, the 10 most popular programs on TV this season average 11.2 million, or 22 percent lower than the 14.26 million for the most popular programs in 2013-14, the Nielsen company said. None of the shows popular four years ago that are still on the air — “The Big Bang Theory,” ”NCIS,” ”60 Minutes,” ”The Voice” and “Blue Bloods” — have a larger audience today.

NBC’s total viewership last week topped that of the other three major broadcasters combined by 27 percent, the biggest network regular-season gap since Nielsen’s electronic “people meters” began measuring ratings.

That comes with an asterisk: It’s not measured against weeks that included Super Bowls and a full seven nights of Olympics, NBC said Tuesday.

A network generally holds back commercial time for “make goods” in case the ratings don’t hit a confidential target promised to advertisers. That means the advertisers get extra time for free. Since the ratings have exceeded the target — Lazarus wouldn’t reveal what it is — so far “make goods” won’t be necessary and NBC can take some of that time set aside and sell it.

The first four nights of the Winter Olympics, the episode of “This Is Us” following the loss of beloved dad Jack (Milo Ventimiglia), and the lighthearted “Ellen’s Game of Games” helped power NBC’s win, according to Nielsen figures.

But the huge Super Bowl bounce that “This Is Us” got when it aired in the coveted post-game spot Feb. 4, a series high of nearly 27 million viewers, fell back to earth last week.

NBC says it has also been helped by showing its evening coverage simultaneously across the country — meaning its 8 p.m. prime-time coverage on the East Coast begins at 5 p.m. out West. Because of the time change, that means extra prime-time coverage out West, which is often filled with live events.

NBC averaged 15.82 million viewers in prime time. CBS had 5.55 million viewers, ABC had 4.04 million, Fox had 2.85 million, Univision had 1.56 million, the CW had 1.37 million, ION Television had 1.32 million and Telemundo had 1.11 million.

Spectators sport headwear shaped as curling stones as they watch the mixed doubles curling finals match against Canada and Switzerland at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
<img src="http://newsenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/14/nbcs-social-media-war-room-a-new-weapon_2.jpg" title="Olympics Snares 22.3M Total Viewers On 1st Monday; NBC-Only Dips From Sochi Again – UPDATE” alt=”Olympics Snares 22.3M Total Viewers On 1st Monday; NBC-Only Dips From Sochi Again – UPDATE”>
Olympics Snares 22.3M Total Viewers On 1st Monday; NBC-Only Dips From Sochi Again – UPDATE

Fox News Channel was the week’s most popular cable network, averaging 2.54 million viewers in prime time. MSNBC had 1.7 million, ESPN had 1.37 million, HGTV had 1.366 million and History had 1.33 million.

While TAD is designed to account for every viewer who takes in the Olympics, regardless of platform or medium, to the casual observer the particularities of NBC’s deals with advertisers may be somewhat confusing. For example, even though NBC and NBCSN air completely different content during the primetime window—on a night the broadcast network is airing downhill skiing and snowboarding, its cable counterpart may feature figure skating or hockey—the ratings for the two channels are measured as if they originated from one source. But because NBC and NBCSN carry the same commercial load during the primetime Olympics window, no distinction is made between the two telecasts.

A look back at 1970s history paid off for CNN. The premiere episode of its documentary series “The Radical Story of Patty Hearst” helped lift CNN over MSNBC in the time slot last Sunday, 947,000 vs 406,000 viewers, and bettered CNN’s weekly average of 872,000 viewers.

Media buyers who bought time against NBC’s Total Audience Delivery metric, which is ad sales argot for the aforementioned broadcast/cable/digital bundle, confirmed that the network’s current numbers are landing right in the sweet spot of its guarantees. Those who bought inventory before NBC embraced the TAD currency say the Olympics are coming in slightly shy of the negotiated household rating, although the shortfall is not considerable. According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, the broadcast-only opening ceremony and the first four nights of primetime competition on NBC and NBCSN averaged a 12.9 household rating, down just a few ticks from the guaranteed 13.5 rating.

NBC Olympic ratings exceeding expectations

In the broadcast news contest, a bit of NBC spelling creativity failed to keep its newscast from a second-place showing. The network retitled a pair of “NBC Nightly News” telecasts as “NBC Nitely News” because they aired outside their usual slot in a quarter of the country and drew lower ratings. It’s a gambit within ratings boundaries and not unique to NBC.

It is perhaps also worth noting that while the current Nielsen data does not reflect out-of-home viewership in bars, restaurants, gyms and other public venues, those bonus deliveries aren’t entirely relevant with regards to NBC’s deals with Olympics advertisers. As an NBC spokesperson told AdAge on the eve of the PyeongChang Games, because the network didn’t sign off on Nielsen’s out-of-home service until long after it had begun selling its Olympics inventory, the OOH metric “factored into only a small number of agreements.”

ABC’s “World News Tonight” was the leader with 9.41 million viewers, followed by NBC with 9.68 million for three nights and 8.43 million for two nights — which combined average about 9.2 million. The “CBS Evening News” had 7.09 million.

“We are on a pace right now where the inventory we held aside for potential under-delivery of our estimates is not going to be needed,” Lazarus said, adding that NBC has “a few million dollars” worth of inventory it had salted aside for makegoods that it can now sell to “advertisers who came in with smaller buys and who want to buy up” or, perhaps, newcomers who approached the PyeongChang Games with a wait-and-see attitude.

For the week of Feb. 5-11, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony, NBC, 27.84 million; Winter Olympics (Sunday), NBC, 22.68 million; Winter Olympics (Saturday), NBC, 21.4 million; Winter Olympics (Thursday), NBC, 16 million; “NCIS,” CBS, 13.9 million; “Bull,” CBS, 10.9 million; “This Is Us,” NBC, 10.14 million; “The Good Doctor,” ABC, 9.64 million; NCIS: New Orleans,” CBS, 8.39 million; “Ellen’s Game of Games,” NBC, 7.7 million.

Olympics, 'This Is Us' give NBC golden ratings victory
Olympics, ‘This Is Us’ give NBC golden ratings victory

ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.

NBCUniversal believes viewership for its mammoth Winter Olympics from Pyeongchang is heating up.

While viewership is slightly down from the Sochi games four years ago, it’s not down as much as the rest of normal TV shows, which have steadily dropped over the last four years. According to the Nielsen company, so far the 2018 Games viewership is down 6 percent from the Sochi games, but in comparison, the overall top ten rated TV shows are down 22 percent in viewership from 2013-14.

NBC Sports Chief on Olympic Gymnast Sex-Abuse Scandal: \”Horrific Failure of the System\”

With one-third of the event under their belts, NBC Sports executives said the audience for the overall event had surpassed the guarantees made to advertisers, giving the company some confidence that attention to the Games would continue to increase. “What we have seen here is people are coming for the Olympics and they are staying at  relatively even levels throughout the evening,” said Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBC Sports, speaking to reporters Tuesday.  Executives believe additional viewers will tune in as more prominent American athletes begin to compete more noticeably in primetime.

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Why NBC Shouldn’t Worry About the Winter Olympics TV Ratings

Primetime broadcasts are luring an average of 24 million people, executives said, with 22 million watching on NBC and two million looking at NBCSN and digital.

Even before the PyeongChang Games started, NBC had sold $900 million worth of advertising. For the first time, the Nielsen rating numbers include prime-time programming on the NBCSN cable network and digital streaming, adding close to 2 million extra viewers to the already 22 million viewers who watch the broadcast network.

Half Of All US Television Households Have Watched The Pyeongchang Olympics On The Networks Of NBCUniversal

Even so, executives acknowledged that viewership in primetime across all platforms had fallen about 6% compared tothat for NBCU’s telecast from Sochi in 2014, although viewership in other dayparts is up.  They took erosion into account when devising advertiser guarantees, and established benchmarks accordingly, said Lazarus. “If you look at the total media landscape, if you are down roughly 5% over a four-year period – no one is doing as well as that in television,” said Lazarus. “We are doing very well.”

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As of Tuesday, the ratings have eclipsed guarantees that NBC had provided it’s advertisers which has subsequently allowed for even more commercial time sales.

Recent performance has allowed NBCUniversal to go back to advertisers and try to sell ad inventory previously reserved in case the company missed audience guarantees, Lazarus said. “We are on a pace right now where the inventory we held aside for potential underdelivery of our estimates is not going to be needed,” he added. He estimated the value of the remaining ad time to be at several million dollars. NBCU has said it has sold more than $900 million in ad time related to the event, with 90% of sponsors purchasing packages across broadcast, cable and digital.

On TV, Olympic halfpipe is a spectacular mystery

Executives said they believed they had put behind them a bizarre incident in which an NBC Sports analyst Joshua Cooper Ramo said during a taped broadcast of the opening ceremonies that Japan served as a “key” example in South Korea’s transformation. While NBCU believes “there was some degree of misinterpretation of what was said, it’s not our job to equivocate or justify or try to explain” to people who were offended by the remarks, said Lazarus, “We simply apologized and moved on.”

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that some longstanding Olympics sponsors had trimmed the amount they spent on these Games, but Lazarus said that had not hurt NBCU’s sales process. “That’s unfortunate for them,” he said of sponsors who may have cut back. “Sixty percent of our advertisers are new.”

Sunday Final Ratings: Winter Olympics Peaks to Near 30 Million Viewers on NBC and NBCSN Combined

Executives say they anticipate more advertiser interest in days ahead, noting that the number of people watching the Olympics in primetime on NBC and NBCSN ” is routinely doubling and tripling the audience of the other three networks combined,” according to Lazarus, who added:  “If you want to sell your product in the next two weeks, we are the window to the consumer.”

Saturday Final Ratings: Winter Olympics Lifts NBC to Nearly Quadruple its Combined Broadcast Competition

NBCUniversal believes viewership for its mammoth Winter Olympics from Pyeongchang is heating up. With one-third of the event under their belts, NBC Sports executives said the audience for the overall event had surpassed the guarantees made to advertisers, giving the company some confidence that attention to the Games would continue to increase. “What we have […]

NBC Narrowly Overtakes CBS Among Total Viewers for First Time Since 2002

NBCUniversal believes viewership for its mammoth Winter Olympics from Pyeongchang is heating up. With one-third of the event under their belts, NBC Sports executives said the audience for the overall event had surpassed the guarantees made to advertisers, giving the company some confidence that attention to the Games would continue to increase. “What we have […]

NBCUniversal believes viewership for its mammoth Winter Olympics from Pyeongchang is heating up. With one-third of the event under their belts, NBC Sports executives said the audience for the overall event had surpassed the guarantees made to advertisers, giving the company some confidence that attention to the Games would continue to increase. “What we have […]

NBCUniversal believes viewership for its mammoth Winter Olympics from Pyeongchang is heating up. With one-third of the event under their belts, NBC Sports executives said the audience for the overall event had surpassed the guarantees made to advertisers, giving the company some confidence that attention to the Games would continue to increase. “What we have […]

NBCUniversal believes viewership for its mammoth Winter Olympics from Pyeongchang is heating up. With one-third of the event under their belts, NBC Sports executives said the audience for the overall event had surpassed the guarantees made to advertisers, giving the company some confidence that attention to the Games would continue to increase. “What we have […]

NBCUniversal believes viewership for its mammoth Winter Olympics from Pyeongchang is heating up. With one-third of the event under their belts, NBC Sports executives said the audience for the overall event had surpassed the guarantees made to advertisers, giving the company some confidence that attention to the Games would continue to increase. “What we have […]

NBCUniversal believes viewership for its mammoth Winter Olympics from Pyeongchang is heating up. With one-third of the event under their belts, NBC Sports executives said the audience for the overall event had surpassed the guarantees made to advertisers, giving the company some confidence that attention to the Games would continue to increase. “What we have […]


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