Rio Olympics kept NBC on top with viewers again last week

Athletes pose for picture with performers during the closing ceremony in the Maracana stadium at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Mariene de Costa sings as the flame is extinguished during the closing ceremony in the Maracana stadium at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

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.

Meanwhile, the Olympics-coverage setting again gave NBC a bump in the evening-news contest, which typically finds NBC and ABC neck-and-neck. NBC's "Nightly News" was decisively on top with 9.8 million viewers, followed by ABC's "World News Tonight" with 7.8 million. The "CBS Evening News" had 6.3 million.

Among cable networks in prime time last week, Fox News Channel retained its lead with 2.1 million viewers, followed by USA with 1.4 million.

For the week of Aug. 15-21, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: Summer Olympic Games (Monday), NBC, 24.2 million; Summer Olympic Games (Tuesday), NBC, 24.1 million; Summer Olympic Games (Thursday), NBC, 21.70 million; Summer Olympic Games (Wednesday), NBC, 20.68 million; Summer Olympic Games (Friday), NBC, 20.1 million; Summer Olympic Games (Sunday Closing Ceremony), NBC, 17.0 million; Summer Olympic Games (Saturday), NBC, 15.4 million; "Rio Gold," NBC, 11.5 million; "The Voice" (Sunday), NBC, 10.3 million; "Superstore" (Friday), NBC, 9.7 million.

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ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox and Fox News Channel are owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.

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Online:

http://www.nielsen.com

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