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Wednesday, August 15 Business

NBC reports strong early Olympic ratings

NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the Winter Olympics from Pyeongchang, South Korea has dominated TV ratings during the games’ first four days, results that compare favorably with those of the early stages of the previous Olympics.

Highlighting the strong start, last Sunday’s primetime coverage pulled in an average total audience of 26 million across broadcast, cable and digital platforms, according to data from Nielsen and Adobe Analytics. The total represented nearly three times the combined 9.5 million primetime viewers for ABC, CBS and FOX.

NBC officials described the numbers as the “most dominant” Sunday night ever during a winter Olympics covered by the Stamford-based broadcaster.

The Opening Ceremony last Friday drew an average total audience of 28.3 million. The event ranked as the most-watched Friday night program on any network since the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Primetime coverage of last Saturday’s action amassed an average total audience of 24.2 million, compared with 23.5 million for the opening Saturday of the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

On the games’ opening day last Thursday, the primetime programming averaged a total audience of 17.2 million viewers. It represented the most-watched Thursday night program on any network since the Sept 7, 2017, NFL kickoff game featuring the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs that was watched by 22.2 million.

The programming featured NBC’s first live coverage of the winter games across all U.S. time zones, including simultaneous coverage on the NBCSN cable channel, NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app.

Some 6,850 miles away from Pyeongchang, NBC Sports’ headquarters on the East Side of Stamford plays a crucial role in delivering the programming.

The headquarters includes a digital hub known as the Highlights Factory. In that room, a team of about 40 monitor live-streams, log and edit clips, and create video packages. The Highlights Factory is producing about 100 videos each day during the games.

“It’s driven by a team of interns who we train to watch Olympics and look out for the kind of things that might not be obviously interesting, but are interesting,” Eric Hamilton, NBC Sports’ director of digital Olympic video production, said in a recent interview. “At the end of the day, we know all the top stories and have not only footage from which we can cut highlights, but we also have the ability to get all kinds of behind-the-scenes content.”

At the same time, the Stamford center continues to produce content for other sports including the NHL and English Premier League soccer.

pschott@scni.com; 203-964-2236; twitter: @paulschott

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