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Rio Olympics kept NBC on top last week

The closing ceremony in Rio drew 14 million fewer viewers than the closing ceremony in London in 2012. (Matt Dunham / Associated Press)
The closing ceremony in Rio drew 14 million fewer viewers than the closing ceremony in London in 2012. (Matt Dunham / Associated Press)

NEW YORK – The Olympics in their final week were still golden for NBC. Once again, NBC’s nightly prime-time averages took the week’s top seven Nielsen slots. And NBC again left rival networks far behind in overall viewership.

But a drop in Olympics viewers compared to the previous week was notable.

So was the drop in TV viewership between the final seven nights of the Rio Olympics compared to four years ago at the London Games.

Consider the erosion from 29.1 million for the London Olympics’ 12th night, compared to 20.7 million for the same night (last Wednesday) in Rio. Or Rio’s 17 million viewers for Sunday’s closing ceremony, compared to 31 million for London.

Since 2012, viewers have gained new options and new screens for enjoying the Rio Olympics. The result: As a TV event, it clearly wasn’t the same as it’s been in past years.

Nor, for whatever reasons, was it even the same sort of TV event it had been the week before. Week-to-week audiences dropped every night, most precipitously Tuesday (down 9.3 million from the previous Tuesday), Thursday (down by 9.5 million), Saturday (down by 10.1 million) and Sunday’s closing ceremony (down 9.8 million from the previous Sunday’s competition).

Even so, NBC retained the weekly ratings crown, sweeping the Top 10 with seven Olympics slots (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday and Saturday), an Olympics-themed special, “Rio Gold,” which ranked eighth, and “The Voice” and “Superstore.”

Though down from last week’s average of 28.2 million viewers, NBC led again with an average of 19.9 million, while CBS was a distant runner-up with 3.8 million and ABC with 2.9 million. Spanish-language Univision (with 1.6 million) again topped Fox, which (with 1.39 million) was barely ahead of Telemundo (1.36 million). ION Television drew 1.1 million, followed by CW with 800,000 viewers.


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