- Early numbers show that just 30 million viewers tuned in for NBC's broadcast of the Olympic Games' opening ceremonies, according to the Independent, down from 40.7 million in 2012.
- The low viewing numbers come as NBC broadcast the ceremonies on a tape-delay, sparking frustration from viewers on social media who wanted to watch the event live.
- Viewers on social media were also frustrated with the number of ads they had to watch during the broadcast. NBC told AdWeek the number of ads during the ceremony was "very similar" to 2012, but that viewing habits have changed over the last four years.
NBC was hoping to get its Olympics coverage off to a great start, but reportedly low viewing figures have cast a shadow over its broadcast. The network paid $1.2 billion for the rights to the games, but ratings from the tape-delayed airing of the Olympics’ opening ceremony fell far short of the 2012 games as people found other real-time viewing options.
Consumers sounded off their frustrations about the tape delay and advertising interruptions on social media. While NBC said the broadcast was similar four years ago, viewing habits conditioned by the internet have changed consumer expectations and behavior.
NBC also managed to set off a firestorm as it explained its decision for the delay.
"The people who watch the Olympics are not particularly sports fans," said John Miller, NBC's chief marketing officer. "More women watch the games than men, and for the women, they're less interested in the result and more interested in the journey. It's sort of like the ultimate reality show and miniseries wrapped into one.”
Miller's remarks were called out on social media for being sexist. The remarks come at a time when the advertising world is under scrutiny due to allegations of rampant sexism in the agency world.
For marketers, NBC’s troubles are a lesson in how marketing has become a real-time, customer-driven exercise. Marketers who want to leverage the Olympics on social media should beware, however: The U.S. Olympic Committe has banned the posting of Olympics-related content on social media, including a long list of prohibited keywords and other actions.