AP: NBC Olympics a ratings "disaster" -- and now a tainted brand

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

A notable leftover from the weekend via Instapundit’s Ed Driscoll that might offer a better measure of American sentiment toward dictatorships and their propaganda — even that aired in the US. The Beijing Winter Olympics started off as a “cataclysmic” failure in TV ratings, and it ended the same way, according to the Associated Press:

There were many reasons to think NBC made a savvy business deal in 2014 when it locked up the American media rights to the Olympics through 2032 for $7.75 billion.

As the Beijing winter games come to a close, it’s harder to see them now.

These Olympics were a disaster for the network: a buzz-free, hermetically-sealed event in an authoritarian country a half-day’s time zone away, where the enduring images will be the emotional meltdown of Russian teen-agers after a drug-tainted figure skating competition and a bereft Mikaela Shiffrin, sitting on a ski slope wondering what went wrong. …

Viewers stayed away in alarming numbers, and NBC has to wonder whether it was extraordinarily bad luck or if the brand of a once-unifying event for tens of millions of people is permanently tainted.

How bad was it? The best night for Olympics ratings was February 13, when NBC had 112 million Super Bowl viewers ready to watch even more sports. How many stuck around? The New York Times reports … not many:

The biggest night for this year’s Games was Feb. 13, when 24 million people tuned in, many of them probably coming from NBC Universal’s Super Bowl broadcast. The football game drew 112 million viewers, or 70 percent of the total viewers who watched the Olympics over more than two weeks.

That’s a retention rate of 21.4%. Almost eight in ten viewers didn’t even want to just leave the channel on after the end of the Super Bowl, but actively chose to tune out.

This had nothing to do with the performance of the athletes. Viewers knew after NBC’s atrocious brown-nosing of Vladimir Putin’s Soviet iconography in Sochi’s opening games that they already knew what the coverage from Beijing would be like. And they turned out to be correct.

This time, though, the moral issues were even more obvious, and yet produced no real shame in Beijing’s corporate partners. That doesn’t just apply to Comcast/NBC either, but all of the corporate sponsors, affiliates, and sports leagues that chose to engage in this Olympiad despite Beijing’s ongoing genocide and brutal suppression of Hong Kong. For a sports and entertainment industry that just spent the last several years lecturing its fans about “social justice,” swallowing that hypocrisy would have taken more gymnastics than a medal-winning turn on the figure-skating ice in Beijing. NBC may pay the biggest cost for their apologias for genocidal tyrannies, but they are far from the only culprits in this disgusting display. Why would anyone sign up to let these hypocrites off the hook?

NBC will likely do better in the next few Olympics, or at least they have to hope that it improves. After this corrupt display, though, one has to wonder just how tarnished those Olympics rings have become for anyone they touch. This Olympiad exposed a lot of people and entities as hypocrites and worse, and Americans have plenty of other entertainment choices — and life choices — than participating in this sleaze pit no matter where it takes place.