America the Great

United States comes together to support Olympic team

It hasn’t taken long for heroes and signature moments to emerge at this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. In just the first few days Michael Phelps has increased his gold medal count to 22 (with 25 Olympic medals overall), Katie Ledecky has led the women’s swim team to multiple gold medals, and the “Final Five” winning the gold in women’s team gymnastics.

For as much as Americans are derided for being divided, we are tuning in through multiple mediums to follow the action and support our athletes. Olympic coverage is at an all-time high. And when Americans aren’t watching the games, they’re making Internet memes, including Phelps Face, Ledecky’s finger wag, Phelps cruising to victory in the 200 fly while his rival, Chad le Clos, who beat him in the event in 2012, could only watch him go by.

Ed Sherman of the Chicago Tribune reports that on Tuesday night 36.1 million viewers watched NBC’s primetime Olympic coverage via traditional television broadcasts and streaming on hand-held devices.

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The vast majority of those viewers used traditional broadcast television to watch – 33.4 million tuned into NBC, 1.9 million watched NBCSN, and 414,000 watched the games on Bravo. That’s just fewer than tuned into NBC-related channels for the 2012 London Games. However, the network is seeing an increase in live streaming through online coverage. Sherman reports that through the games’ first Tuesday viewers had lived streamed 883 million minutes of NBC’s Olympics coverage on and the NBC Sports app compared to 818 million minutes for the entire 2012 Games, including more than 1.3 million unique users streamed the women’s gymnastics team victory Tuesday afternoon.

NBC has held the rights to broadcast the Summer Games since 1988 and the Winter Olympic Games since the 2002. According to Wikipedia, in 2011, NBC agreed to a $4.38 billion contract with the International Olympic Committee to broadcast the games through 2020. In 2014, the network agreed to a $7.75 billion contract extension to air the Olympics through the 2032.

NBC has increased its broadcast coverage of the summer games more than 3,663 percent since the network began covering the games, from 179.5 hours in 1988 compared to 6,755 in 2016.

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These numbers are just NBC’s. Every network is including as much on the Olympics as they can. And the games are one of the top trending topics across social media. Of course, it helps that the United States is leading the medal count.

The 2016 Games have longer than a week before they come to a close. They are just getting started. So too, is the interest Americans have in capturing our athletes their moments of glory.


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NBC’s Summer Olympic Coverage

NBC has increased its broadcast coverage of the summer games more than 3,663 percent since the network began covering the games, from 179.5 hours in 1988 compared to 6,755 in 2016.


Year               Host City                      Hours       % Change

1988         Seoul, South Korea            179.5               —

1992          Barcelona, Spain                161              (10.3)

1996        Atlanta, United States          171                6.2

2000         Sydney, Australia               441.5             158.2

2004         Athens, Greece                  1,210             174.1

2008          Beijing, China                   3,600             197.5

2012         London, England               5,535             53.8

2016       Rio de Janeiro, Brazil          6,755             22.0



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