NBC’s prime-time coverage of the first full week of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics gave it the largest combined margin over the other three major networks since the introduction of the People Meter system in 1987, despite a 12.2 percent drop in viewership from the same week in the London Games.
NBC averaged 28.23 million viewers for its all-Olympics prime-time schedule between Aug. 8 and Sunday, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen today.
CBS was second, averaging 3.59 million viewers, followed by ABC, which averaged 2.73 million. Fox averaged 1.19 million viewers to finish fourth among the major broadcast networks for the 18th consecutive week and sixth overall, behind cable’s Fox News Channel and Disney Channel.
NBC’s weekly viewership was the most for any network since it averaged 32.16 million from July 30 through Aug. 5, 2012, the first week of the London Games.
Factors cited by NBC for the lower broadcast viewership is that these are the first Summer Olympics in U.S. television history with broadcast network coverage, including prime time, being streamed simultaneously on digital platforms and cable coverage opposite the prime-time broadcast coverage.
NBC has been the most-watched network for seven consecutive weeks, matching its longest streak since a seven-week streak from the weeks of April 29-June 10, 2002.
The week’s most-watched night came last Tuesday when an average of 33.44 million viewers watched coverage featuring the U.S. victory in the women’s gymnastics team final.
The coverage of victories by Americans Simone Biles in the women’s gymnastics individual all-around and Michael Phelps in swimming’s 200-meter individual medley Thursday was second for the week, averaging 31.22 million viewers.
As is custom during the Summer Olympics, Olympics coverage swept the week’s top seven ratings spots. The least-watched night was Friday, when an average of 24.02 million viewers watched coverage featuring gold medal-winning swims by Katie Ledecky, Maya DiRado and Anthony Ervin.
The week’s most-watched non-Olympics program was the CBS news magazine “60 Minutes,” eighth for the week, averaging 6.03 million viewers.
The most-watched cable program was ESPN’s coverage of the Los Angeles Rams-Dallas Cowboys preseason game which averaged 3.21 million viewers, 30th overall.
Fox News Channel was the most-watched cable network for the ninth time in 10 weeks, averaging 1.76 million. Disney Channel was second, averaging 1.46 million.
The week’s most-watched Spanish-language program was the Monday episode of the Telemundo telenovela “Senora Acero 3: La Coyote” which averaged 2.08 million viewers, 57th overall.
As usual, Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network, averaging 1.59 million viewers. Telemundo was second, averaging 1.35 million, followed by UniMas, which averaged 500,000, Estrella TV, which averaged 180,000, Azteca America, which averaged 100,000, and MundoMax, which averaged 60,000.
The “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” had its most-watched week since the week of Jan. 5-9, 2015 averaging 10.43 million viewers to be the most- watched network nightly newscast for the fifth consecutive week.
ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” was second, averaging 7.91 million. The “CBS Evening News” was third, as it has been throughout Scott Pelley’s more than five years as anchor, averaging 6.17 million viewers.
The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were NBC’s Tuesday, Thursday, Monday, Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday and Friday Olympics telecasts; and CBS’ “60 Minutes,” the Wednesday “Big Brother” episode and “NCIS.”
–City News Service