Broadcast from Sochi, NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams beat its first-week total-viewer averages during the Olympics in London, Vancouver, Beijing and Torino. It was the newscast’s biggest overall audience since the week of January 3, 2005. Versus the comparable week at the Winter Games in Vancouver in ’10 (11.103 million viewers ) Nightly News grew 5%. In the news demo, however, Nightly averaged 3.180 million viewers in its first full week at the Sochi Games – down 8% compared to same week at Vancouver (3.441 million). However, Nightly at Sochi came in 790,000 demo viewers ahead of World News’ 2.390 million, and 1,058,000 million demo viewers ahead of Evening News’ 2.122 million.
Today climbed back on top of the ratings among morning infotainment programs, last week, though it did not find itself at the same dizzying ratings heights, relative to the competition, it has enjoyed in past Winter Games. Today, after some recent ratings doldrums, delivered its biggest audience advantages over ABC’s Good Morning America since the second week of the London Games in August 2012, according to fast national program ratings from Nielsen for last week.
The second week of the London Games, you’ll recall, is the last time Today show beat GMA in total viewers. GMA has won every week since in overall audience.
Today averaged 6.221 million viewers last week — its biggest weekly crowd since the week of the Royal British wedding in April 2011. Today‘s 6.221 million viewers topped GMA’s 6.010 million for the week by 211,000 viewers. For comparison sake, that second week of the London Games, Today’s total viewers lead over GMA was 1.541 million. And Today’s lead over GMA during the first full week of broadcast from the Olympics in 2010 was 1.884 million.
In the news demo, Today averaged 2.545 million viewers its first full week of Sochi Olympics broadcasts – its biggest demo haul since the week of the Joplin, Missouri tornado in May of ’11. That 2.545 million is 185,000 viewers ahead of GMA’s 2.360 million demo viewers last week. Here too, it’s Today’s biggest edge over GMA since the second week of the London Games. Four years ago, during the comparable week at Vancouver, Today led GMA by 1.011 million demo viewers.
Angelina Jolie‘s Unbroken got a first-look tease today during the Olympics in an extended preview profiling Louis Zamperini, the Olympian-turned-WWII POW whose life story gets the big screen treatment this Christmas. Jack O’Connell plays the younger Zamperini with Japan’s Miyavi, Garrett Hedlund, Domhnall Gleeson, and Jai …
NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus stands by the decision to edit IOC president Thomas Bach’s Sochi Games Opening Ceremony speech, and said he was not surprised the Bob Costas pinkeye story had gone “viral” because Costas is a national Olympics institution. In a wide-ranging phone call with reporters today, Lazarus also said he was not worried the lackluster performance by U.S. athletes so far would translate to lower ratings, and dismissed suggestions NBC’s primetime tape delays would impact numbers, calling it an out-of-date notion. But he also said a focus on NBC’s primetime ratings, or even NBC’s ratings, was too narrow a way to look at Games’ performance for the company.
Lazarus and NBCUniversal research president Alan Wurtzel said that, as with the London Summer Games, they have discovered that extra digital content helps, not hurts, primetime ratings. “The more devices people use to view the Olympics on, the more they watch…A rising tide lifts all boats,” Wurtzel said. In a rat-a-tat presentation, Wurtzel tossed out a storm of stats demonstrating the network’s flood-the-zone, mostly live Olympics presentation strategy was working well and having no negative impact on NBC’s Games ratings in primetime. “Our strategy of providing more live coverage across all our platforms is once again proving to be very appealing,” Lazarus said. “Viewers want event programming. There is no bigger event than the Olympics. Our multi-platform presentation style has clearly resonated with them,” he said.
More than 30 million people in the United States have visited its Olympics websites, up 54 percent from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, the execs said.
Bob Costas, NBC‘s primetime and late-night Olympics anchor, is out a second day — felled by swollen, weepy eyes. “I don’t know if I’m the first person to break it to you, but you’re coming out of the bullpen again tonight, Matt,” Costas phoned in to Matt Lauer this morning during the What’s Trending portion of Today show in Sochi. Costas and his pink-ish, teary eyes had been trending for a while — Costas having shown up last Thursday to anchor early Games coverage sporting a badly swollen left eye, glasses, and an apology to viewers. Tuesday was a big/bad day for NBC, with both Costas and Shaun White suffering the end of their streaks. White, who NBC had hoped would be its Big Story of the Sochi Games, lost out on his bid for a third consecutive gold in the halfpipe, going home with no medals from Sochi; Costas ended his uninterrupted run as anchor of NBC’s Olympics broadcasts since the late ’80s.
Lauer made his debut as fill-in anchor last night, telling viewers Costas’ eyes were so infected he looked like the loser in a prize fight. “How are you doing? So many people are rooting for you and worrying about you a little bit,” Savannah Guthrie asked Costas this morning — after noting Lauer’s “great reviews” for replacing him.