from the you're-not-doing-a-good-job dept
NBC (now Comcast NBC Universal) has enjoyed the rights to broadcast the US Olympics since 1998. In 2011, the company paid $4.4 billion for exclusive US broadcast rights to air the Olympics through 2020. In 2014, Comcast NBC Universal shelled out another $7.75 billion for the rights to broadcast the summer and winter Olympics in the US… until the year 2032.
Despite years of experience Comcast/NBC still struggles to provide users what they actually want. For years the cable, broadband, and broadcast giant has been criticized for refusing to air events live, spoiling some events, implementing annoying cable paywall restrictions, implementing heavy handed and generally terrible advertising, often sensationalizing coverage, avoiding controversial subjects during broadcasts, and streaming efforts that range from clumsy to scattershot.
Not too surprisingly, years of this continues to have a profound drag on viewer numbers, which are worse than ever:
“Through Tuesday, an average of 12.2 million people watched the Olympics in prime-time on NBC, cable or the Peacock streaming service, down 42 percent from the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. The average for NBC alone was 10 million, a 47 percent drop, the Nielsen company said.”
And this was with Comcast/NBC’s attempt to goose ratings by jumping right to Olympics coverage before the Super Bowl postgame celebrations had barely started. This year’s ratings were also impacted by doping scandals, COVID, an Olympics location that barely had any snow, and disgust at the host country’s human rights abuses:
“One woman on Twitter proclaimed the Olympics were ?over for me. My lasting impression will be fake snow against a backdrop of 87 nuclear reactors in a country with a despicable human rights record during a pandemic. And kids who can look forward to years of therapy.?
While the Olympic veneer might not be what it used to be, you still have to think Comcast could boost viewership by exploiting the internet to broaden and improve coverage and provide more real-time live coverage of all events, while bundling it in a more coherent overall presentation. After all, they’ve only had two decades to perfect the formula.