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JULY 30, 2012
The ins and outs of Olympic programming
You know there is a major television event going on when only one network airs new programming and the rest of them go into hiding. Of course I am referring to this summerís Olympics.
Only a few times per year the networks cool off on the competition Ė and itís when they know they donít stand a chance in the ratings.
Typically the Super Bowl is one of these events. With the majority of the U.S. viewing audience (they donít care about Canada when it comes to ratings) tuned into the big game, TV networks donít bother trying to compete.
What ends up happening is the other major networks run repeats. Even in todayís world of people recording shows and watching them later, itís still a risk that people will miss a new episode of a show. And why bother wasting the money it cost to produce it if thereís a slight chance it will get watched?
Thatís not to say all programming is shelved during the two weeks of Olympics coverage. Reality shows that are playing out over the course of the summer continue on, but with lower-than-usual audience numbers expected.
Since NBC spent over $1 billion for the rights to broadcast the Olympics, there is a lot of attention on the peacock network right now. In fact, since most of NBCís scripted primetime programming was cancelled at the end of the TV season in May, critics are expecting big promotion of the networkís fall programming lineup during the Games.
If you have watched the Super Bowl or Stanley Cup finals, you know the host network constantly shoves its programming down your throat. When there is a break in play, the on-screen graphics float by and the announcers remind you about the shows. Itís not a way to fill time as they wait for the action to resume. Itís scripted by the promotions department!
At the same time, NBC is being criticized that it is not airing Olympic events live (on TV) and the controversy could work against the network in its hopes to use the large audience to promote its fall programming. People are talking about NBC right now but not for a good reason.
And a tidbit from up here in Canada: CTV reports the Opening Ceremony was watched by an average of 6.4 million Canadians, peaking at 8 million viewers during the three-and-a-half-hour broadcast on July 27.