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Olympic TV advertisers not getting bang for their bucks

in Sports/Top Headlines by

Each morning, SaintPetersBlog readers will find a piece advising them of the top Olympic events on television for that day. Perhaps viewers from around the country need to check out the lineup as well.

Over the first few days of Olympic coverage, ratings are not what they should be. In fact, they were  down to 1992 levels until they began an upswing on Monday.

Beginning with the mediocre opening ceremony on Friday, the Olympics were more than three ratings points below the London games in 2012. In real numbers this translates to a whopping 34 percent decrease from four years ago. A ratings point is one percent of U.S. homes with televisions.

Lord knows NBC tried to do right by the advertisers, if not the viewers. During those opening ceremonies, five commercial breaks dotted the first half hour of coverage. Some of the wags out there renamed the network as “Nothing But Commercials.”

Things perked up beginning Monday with ratings climbing back to levels promised advertisers. The huge news from men’s and women’s swimming, the women’s gymnasts, and women’s beach volleyball had something to do with that.

According to the Los Angeles Times, advertisers have shelled out $1.2 billion for the privilege of hawking their wares. While Lilly King was taking down the drug-tainted Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova in the 100-meter breaststroke, GEICO was taking on Progressive Insurance in between races.

The heroics of Michael Phelps paused to allow Lionel Ritchie and Peyton Manning extoll the virtues of DirecTV.

GEICO and another competitor, Nationwide, bought time on digital, mobile and other formats in addition to NBC. The most active advertiser, according to Adweek, is Visit Orlando. They had 209 different placements on computers, more than any other, plus one television ad.

The slow start had to have caught NBC by surprise. Ratings downers are more understandable when live coverage is either difficult or impossible. Sydney in 2000 and Beijing in 2008 are examples.

But Rio de Janeiro is only one hour ahead of the U.S. East Coast. The network sold ads based on ratings projections that were rosy for that very fact.

Events such as the women’s gymnastics team competition was settled on Tuesday afternoon, but was delayed until prime time. It was nearly midnight when viewers still awake could see the outcome.

There is still more than a week of coverage remaining. Viewers are still looking for more gold medals. Advertisers will continue to look for a better return on investment on the gold they shelled out.


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