Viewership for NBC’s prime-time coverage of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics was lower than at least each of the past six previous Winter Games, even when cable and streaming viewership is included, according to figures released Tuesday.
NBC’s 18 nights of coverage, which concluded with Sunday’s closing ceremony, averaged 17.8 million viewers, according to figures released Tuesday by Nielsen. What NBC dubbed its Total Audience Delivery — which includes cable and digital viewership — was 19.8 million viewers.
The NBC viewership was down 16.4 percent from its 21.3 million average for the 2014 Sochi Games. When the cable and streaming audience is included, the drop was 7 percent.
Viewership for most forms of programming has dropped in recent years, in part because of increased viewership of streaming programming.
The Pyeongchang Games were the first Winter Games where cable and streaming coverage was available at the same time as primetime broadcast coverage.
The Olympic coverage was profitable for NBC, according to Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBC Broadcasting and Sports.
Even with the drop in viewership, NBC’s Olympics coverage was 82 percent larger than the combined audiences of CBS, ABC and Fox, 9.8 million, the largest Winter Olympics advantage.
An Olympics telecast was the most-watched program for all 18 nights of the Pyeongchang Games, just like it was during the Sochi Games. Olympic telecasts came in first on 14 of the 17 nights of the 2010 Vancouver Games and eight of the 17 nights of the 2006 Turin Games.
NBC’s prime-time programming between Feb. 19 and Sunday — which for ratings purposes consisted entirely of the Olympics-related programming except for an episode of the comedy “A.P. Bio” which followed Sunday’s closing ceremony — averaged 14.19 million viewers, 19.9 percent less than its 17.72 million average for the final week of the Sochi Games.
CBS was second, averaging 4.83 million viewers, ABC third, averaging 3.47 million, and Fox fourth among the broadcast networks, averaging 2.04 million.
As is typical for a final week of the Winter Olympics, Olympics programming accounted for each the week’s eight most-watched programs. The week’s most-watched night of Olympics coverage was Tuesday, which featured the ladies figure skating short program, averaged 17.528 million viewers.
For the second consecutive week, the most-watched non-Olympics program was the CBS news magazine, “60 Minutes,” which averaged 8.326 million viewers.
“A.P. Bio” averaged 5.888 million viewers following Sunday’s closing ceremony, finishing 17th among the week’s prime-time and cable programs and sixth among scripted programming.
The program that followed the 2014 closing ceremony, the comedy “Growing Up Fisher,” averaged 8.86 million viewers, 18th among that week’s prime-time and cable programs.
Fox News Channel returned to the top of the cable ratings after a one- week absence, averaging 2.225 million viewers. MSNBC was second, averaging 1.739 million and USA Network third, averaging 1.4 million.
The week’s most-watched cable program was the first original episode of the AMC horror series “The Walking Dead” since Dec. 10, which averaged 8.282 million viewers, 10th overall.
The week’s most-watched Spanish-language program was Univision’s coverage of the Premio Lo Nuestro Latin music awards show, which averaged 3.216 million viewers, 45th among all prime-time broadcast and cable programs.
Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network for the 16th consecutive week, averaging 1.83 million viewers. Telemundo averaged 1.2 million viewers to finish second for the 16th consecutive week after four consecutive first-place finishes.
UniMas was third, averaging 700,000 viewers, followed by Estrella TV, which averaged 260,000 and Azteca America, which averaged 70,000.
ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” was the most-watched network nightly newscast for the 13th consecutive week and 24th of past 25, averaging 9.263 million viewers.
The “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” was second, averaging 8.29 million viewers.
The “CBS Evening News” averaged 6.621 million viewers for its Tuesday through Friday newscasts. It has finished third each week since the week of Sept. 25-29, 2006.
The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were NBC’s Tuesday, Monday, Thursday Olympics coverage, the Olympics closing ceremony, the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday Winter Olympics coverage and Winter Olympics skating gala; CBS’ “60 Minutes”; and AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”
—City News Service
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