When NBC bid for the right to broadcast the 2012 Summer Olympics, it anticipated a loss of more than $100 million, stemming from a loss of over $233 million from the 2012 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. The ratings have skyrocketed, though, giving NBC the possibility of actually breaking even on the games, even with the controversial system of delaying high profile events until prime-time.
NBC planned to have 5,535 hours of Olympics coverage across 9 channels this year, bringing production costs, including staffing, to a whopping $1.3 billion. With a price tag like that, losses were anticipated, but the wild card turned out to be the interest in advertisers to online video and lower-profile sports, which are broadcast on the additional channels.
The London games have hit record ratings numbers, surpassing Beijing in just their first night. Through Tuesday, NBC averaged 35.6 million viewers on the first five nights, 10% above Beijing and 23% above Athens. NBC is now even selling air-time it had held back for make-goods.
With even more swimming and gymnastics to come, and the US Medal Count reaching 37 today, NBC doesn’t see the ratings roller coaster slowing down anytime soon.
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