NBC: Knowing Olympics results ahead doesn’t hurt ratings


NBCNBC has unveiled research that finds the opposite of what many thought was a given: viewers who know the results of London Olympics events before they are shown on tape delay are more (not less) likely to watch them.

Two-thirds of people questioned in a 1,000-person survey from Usamp Sunday said they watch the prime-time Olympics telecast even if they know the results ahead of time. People who watched the events live earlier in the day via computer screen watched the tape-delayed broadcast 50% longer than those who hadn’t, said Alan Wurtzel, NBC’s chief researcher.

Usamp questioned 1,000 adults who watched Olympics competition. The survey found that 43% who watched the prime-time telecasts said they knew the results before tuning in.

The research disputes long-held assumptions that have guided production of Olympic broadcasts from locales outside of U.S. time zones for decades. NBC has been criticized for not airing some of the London Games’ marquee events like swimming and gymnastics live so they can be aired later in prime time, reported The AP.

NBC has been scoring better ratings for the London Games than it ever expected, outpacing the 2008 Games in Beijing. The network is airing all of the competition live via video stream. But the network’s decision to hold back big events because no live competition takes place during U.S. prime time has led to widespread complaints on social media. The longtime theory was that fewer people would watch in prime time if they could see them live earlier.

Lazarus held back when asked whether this would mean tape delay will become a thing of the past after the London Games: “We will continue to innovate our coverage,” he said on a conference call Thursday. “I won’t make a proclamation here about what we are going to do, but be sure we are analyzing everything.”

Some 75% of people who said they had tried streaming Olympics coverage on tablets said they had never streamed video before on the devices.

See the AP story here


  1. Polling 1,000 people and then presenting it as if that were the view of the “majority” is asinine. This is the same tactic pulled on the other poll where they asked 1,005 people if they were satisfied with NBC’s coverage (and 76% said yes). How about this.. how many employees of NBC are over in London? More than enough to send out a work-email asking employees and friends/family to take these polls, that’s for sure.

    Rigged? Probably.

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