It’s just a few days after the Rio Olympics, and the numbers are out: NBC reported a huge drop in ratings stacked up against Summer Games in London four years ago. According to Bloomberg News, primetime viewers dropped 17 percent, and the highly coveted 18-to-49-year-old age group, the viewers advertisers love the most, dropped a full quarter, 25 percent less than 2012.
So what happened, exactly? It’s not like the Olympics didn’t have plenty of big names and big stories.
As Jeff Andrews at Voactiv pointed out, NBC sort of thought this kind of thing could happen, pointing to a “nightmare” scenario for the Games that the network paid $12 billion to host until 2032: “We wake up someday and the ratings are down 20 percent,” Burke said at a conference in June. The nightmare came true, and Burke prophesied who the Freddy Krueger in the really bad dream would be: “[M]y prediction would be that millennials had been in a Facebook bubble or a Snapchat bubble and the Olympics have come, and they didn’t know it.”