NBC Sports held a conference call with reporters this morning, outlining the coverage so far, and some of the lessons learned.
“I don’t think any of us here or any of you frankly expected us to be having this dialog right now,” Lazarus said, adding that the numbers were a “very pleasant surprise.” 38.7 million watched Tuesday night delivering a 21.8 rating/35 share; the best non-U.S. Summer Olympic night since Montreal in 1976.
Other surprises included the cost of the games. Lazarus acknowledges that NBC was expecting to lose around $200 million for these games, but now says “there’s a chance” that the network could even make a bit of money, when it is all said and done.
Then there was the sleeper sport of the games so far: Archery, which drew 1.5 million viewers on TV, more than Olympics basketball games so far. “Archery is the new curling,” quipped Wurtzel. “Maybe it’s the ‘Hunger Games’ phenomenon.”
The executives addressed the criticism the network has faced on social media platforms, with Lazarus noting that “some of [the criticism] is in fact fair, and we are listening.”
That said, he defended NBC’s edit of the women’s gymnastics final, saying that the Russian performance that was cut was “immaterial to the outcome” and done so purely for time reasons. He challenged anyone listening to re-watch the full event online, which he says would confirm that the cut was fair.
With regards to the #NBCFail hashtag on twitter, Lazarus said of online criticism: “We think it is a very loud minority, the silent majority has been with us the last six days.”