Saturday, September 24, 2022

Ratings: Daytona, NBA ASG, Olympics and more

Ratings predictions for the Daytona 500, NBA All-Star Game, the conclusion of the Beijing Winter Olympics and more. Can the Daytona 500 and NBA All-Star Game bounce back from last year’s historic lows?

NASCAR Daytona 500 (2:30p Sun FOX)

Just a ten percent chance of rain at Daytona is the best news NASCAR could possibly have entering the “Great American Race.” Last year’s rain-delayed Daytona 500 finished after Midnight and had a mere 2.8 rating, easily a record low. (To put that in perspective, even the infamously low-rated “bubble” NBA Finals never dipped below the 3.0 mark.)

Barring some sort of bizarre, non-rain related delay (recall the potholes of 2010), just getting the race in as scheduled should be enough for a substantial increase in ratings. The last Daytona 500 to be run as scheduled — three years ago — averaged a massive-by-current-standards 5.3 rating. Can this year’s race get back to that level? Prediction: 4.8, 9.19M.

NBA All-Star Game (8p Sun TNT/TBS)

Last year’s NBA All-Star Game was a late addition to the schedule, played against players’ wishes, largely fanless, bereft of the usual Friday and Saturday night lead-up and overshadowed by a competing celebrity interview that drew Sunday Night Football-level viewership . By that standard, the record-low 3.1 rating was surprisingly good. Sans those many headwinds, it should not take much for ratings to bounce back this year. It will be a lot more difficult to match the 4.1 rating two years ago, when a tribute to Kobe Bryant — whose passing occurred just weeks earlier — lifted the numbers. Expect ratings to settle in around the 2019 level of 3.8, which in this out-of-home era should result in an audience well over seven million. Prediction: 3.7, 7.14M.

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Beijing Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony (8p Sun NBC)

Few will lament the end of the Beijing Winter Olympics. Much like last year’s delayed Tokyo Summer Games, Beijing was a bleak Olympics marred by continued COVID mitigations and uncharacteristic performances by American stars. Add to that the widespread antipathy toward host nation China and yet another Russian performance enhancing drug scandal. NBC will be glad to move onto Paris in two years.

As everyone expected — including NBC — Beijing will rank as the lowest rated Olympics ever in primetime. The previous low was set last year. With five more Olympics in its deal with the IOC, NBC will certainly hope that Tokyo and Beijing were outliers doomed by unusual circumstances. A less reassuring thought is that those specific circumstances merely exacerbated a broader decline in interest.

Just a decade ago, the London Olympics was an unmitigated ratings hit for NBC. The network’s primetime windows averaged 31.1 million viewers, and that was without the aid of streaming or concurrent cable coverage. This year’s primetime coverage was averaging 12.2 million across-all-platforms as of Tuesday, per the Associated Press, Even accounting for the changes in television and the difference in popularity between a Summer and Winter Games, it is difficult to lose 20 million viewers in a decade. Perhaps if Tokyo and Beijing stood alone once could pass the numbers off as a sign of the times, but the reality is that viewership was down for Sochi (vs. Vancouver), for Rio (vs. London) and for PyeongChang (vs. Sochi) ). Beijing will make it four-straight declines, the longest stretch in the Nielsen People Meter era. There is more going on here than COVID, China and culture wars. NBC figures to see increases for its next three games – Paris 2024 should improve over Tokyo, Milan 2026 should improve over Beijing and then Los Angeles 2028 should vault over Paris – but the long-term trend for the Olympics as a US media property is not promising.

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As for Sunday’s Beijing Closing Ceremony, there is a non-zero chance the NBA All-Star Game averages more viewers. Prediction: 4.1, 7.43M.

WCBB: Tennessee – South Carolina (1p Sun ABC);
Int’l Soccer: USWNT-New Zealand (3p Sun ABC)

ABC airs a women’s sports doubleheader Sunday afternoon as Tennessee faces South Carolina in college basketball, followed by the US women’s national team against New Zealand. Opposite the Daytona 500 and Olympics, ratings points might be hard to come by. Nevertheless, expect better-than-usual numbers for two properties that rarely get broadcast network exposure outside of their blue-chip events. Predictions: 543K and 715K.

Last week’s predictions

— NFL Super Bowl 56: Rams-Bengals. Prediction: 39.3 rating, 100.14M viewers, result: 36.9, 99.18M,
— Winter Olympics (NBC). Prediction: 9.6, 19.96M, result: 9.8, 21.28M,
— Winter Olympics (USA). Prediction: 908K, result: 905K,
— NBA: Hawks-Celtics. Prediction: 1.0, 1.76M, result: 1.0, 1.87M,
— PGA Tour Phoenix Open, final rd. Prediction: 1.8, 3.24M, result: 2.0, 3.59M,
— NCAA WGYM: Penn State-Michigan. Prediction: 75K, result: na

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Deskhttps://nationworldnews.com
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