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NBC Averages 11.7 Million Viewers for Winter Olympics Across All Platforms

For the “nobody watched the Winter Olympics” crowd, NBC can still boast that the Beijing Games drew the highest primetime audience since last September besides NFL telecasts.

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The consensus expectation among sports media and TV observers was that ratings for the 2022 Winter Olympics would be lower than its predecessors for NBC. Perhaps even the lowest ever.

One day after the closing ceremony in Beijing, the numbers are in and met those lowered expectations. According to NBC, the network averaged 10.7 million viewers per night during the Winter Games. Across all platforms, including USA Network and streaming numbers on Peacock, that number increased to 11.4 million.

The previous Winter Games in PyeongChang averaged 17.5 million live and same day primetime viewers and increased to 18.2 million when one week of delayed viewing was counted. (Streaming wasn’t as much of an option for viewers in 2018.) So the Beijing Games suffered a 39 percent drop in audience by comparison.

Last year’s Tokyo Summer Olympics averaged 15.6 million viewers across television and digital platforms. At the time, those were the lowest numbers ever for an Olympic Games. (And the PyeongChang numbers were the lowest before that, so you can see the downward trend.)

A number of factors will surely be cited for the decline in viewership. There was a lack of interest in the Winter Games just six months after the COVID-19 delayed Summer Games were held. Concern and protest over China’s human rights violations were certainly a consideration. And the 13-hour time difference between Beijing and the U.S. Eastern time zone meant results were known long before they could be shown in primetime.

TV viewership in general has decreased during the pandemic, while viewers have many more options to consider with streaming platforms with shows and movies that are in the cultural conversation more than the Winter Olympics.

But for the “nobody watched the Winter Olympics” naysayers, NBC can still boast that the Beijing Games drew the highest primetime audience since last September for anything besides NFL telecasts (Sunday, Monday, and Thursday nights).

And some media observers, such as Sports Business Journal‘s John Ourand, believe future Olympics telecast will be on the upswing with less of a time difference in Paris and Italy, followed by the 2028 Summer Olympics being held in Los Angeles.

Sports TV News

Don Mattingly Joining Blue Jays Staff After YES Network Courtship

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

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YES Network

The New York Yankees regional sports network can take Don Mattingly off its talent wish list. Mattingly was announced Wednesday as a bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays starting in 2023.

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

But Mattingly told Andrew Marchand of The New York Post this week that he had another opportunity in the works but wouldn’t elaborate.

YES also has been considering luring Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter into broadcasting. But no formal talks have taken place.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Paying Nearly $45 Billion For Rights Fees Through 2027

Currently, the network’s largest spending comes for its Monday Night Football package, which is $2.6 billion annually

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The last year or two has been evident that the price of rights to airing major college and professional sporting events on television are only going up. But the various networks either with longstanding relationships with leagues and conferences or looking to break into the media rights landscape are willing to pay up. That’s no more evident with Disney, which will be shelling out tens of billions of dollars to have regular season and postseason events air on ESPN.

According to Sportico, which reviewed Disney’s annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, ESPN is set to spend $44.9 billion on sports media rights through 2027.

Currently, the network’s largest spending comes for its Monday Night Football package, which is $2.6 billion annually. Additionally, ESPN will pay $1.4 billion through the 2024-25 season for NBA rights.

The Sportico report noted ESPN will generate more than $8.1 billion in affiliate revenue to help offset those costs. The network will soon be entering talks to renew its media rights deal to be the exclusive home for nearly all NCAA Division I championships, as well as engaging in new NBA rights negotiations.

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Return of Bob Iger Puts Pac-12 ‘Not Exactly In A Great Place’

“I think it’s even more evident it’s not gonna happen. These places aren’t gonna spend big money on the Pac-12.”

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The Pac-12 is currently in a media rights negotiation with partners for its next TV deal after the departure of USC and UCLA. The conference has remained committed to the stance that it feels it can match the dollar amount given to the Big 12 from FOX and ESPN. However, Andrew Marchand of The New York Post isn’t so confident.

During The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast, Marchand said the recent return of Bob Iger as Disney CEO, coupled with recent layoffs from Amazon, could spell bad news for the PAC 12’s quest to match what the Big 12 received.

“Do I still think they can get the same number as the Big 12? I do, but you start thinking about where this is going and that’s not exactly a great place to be if you’re the Pac-12. They might get the number, but the idea that they’ll get a lot more than the Big 12 — which I’ve already said is not gonna happen — I think it’s even more evident it’s not gonna happen. These places aren’t gonna spend big money on the Pac-12…I think there’s some rough waters out in the Pacific.”

Marchand said if the University of California Board of Regents won’t allow UCLA to join the Big Ten as expected, the conference would then set its sights on Washington and Oregon, which would continue to decimate the Pac-12.

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