The leadup to the 2016 Olympics in Rio certainly haven’t been the smoothest. Starting with the risk of Zika and extending to reports of poor conditions in the Athlete Village, Rio needed to turn in a solid effort when the games actually begin. By the sound of things, Friday evening’s Opening Ceremonies did little to move the needle in a positive direction.
Source: Overnight for the Opening Ceremony came in at around a 16.5 (from 8-11:30pm). That would be the lowest overnight since 1996.
— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) August 6, 2016
Later Saturday morning, Bloomsburg News reported that the Ceremonies recieved a preliminary rating of 17.2, which, although an improvement on 16.5, still isn’t the sort of viewership NBC likely expected when they aired the Opening Ceremony on tape delay to attract maximum United States viewership. According to Bloomburg News, NBC plans on announcing total viewers later in the day Saturday.
NBC was expecting record numbers this year with the Rio Olympics only scheduled one hour ahead of the east coast of the United States. This is a huge difference from the previous games in London and Beijing that required tape delay for most events. The minor time difference will allow NBC to provide live television coverage of the Rio Olympics. The network plans on airing over 6,700 hours of live coverage between television and online platforms.
Perhaps NBC should have taken the allure of live coverage into account when they decided to air the Opening Ceremonies on a one-hour tape delay. The London Opening Ceremonies attracted 40.7 million viewers in the United States and it seems clear, even with the disputing ratings numbers, that this year’s will be significantly lower. NBC will hope to make up for the viewers they lost to live-streaming last night over the course of the competition in Rio.