Blame It On Rio: Will The 2016 Summer Olympics Site Be Good For Ratings?

Categories: 1-Featured,TV Sports Ratings & News

Written By

October 2nd, 2009

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Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you know that Rio de Janiero has been chosen as the site for the 2016 Summer Olympics (sorry, Chicago).

A recent piece in THR.com trots out reasons why it may be "welcome news" to the network that ultimately wins the bidding to telecast the games (NBC and ABC/ESPN are said to be interested).

While a domestic city like Chicago, which lost in the first round of the finals, is always a dream for U.S. broadcasters in terms of viewer interest and logistics, Rio de Janeiro's win over Tokyo and Madrid should be welcome news for the networks bidding to cover the Olympics.

The picturesque Brazilian city is in a time zone only one hour ahead of U.S.' East Coast, making live coverage of most of the events possible, an important consideration in the Internet age, when sports results are disseminated instantaneously.

Additionally, Rio is a popular vacation destination for Americans and has an instant name recognition.

What's more, given the large Latin American population in the U.S., having a Latin American city host the Olympics for the first time might provide an extra ratings boost among Latino viewers.

Who knows how the games will be covered in 2016, but the way NBC typically programs their broadcast primetime Olympic coverage, they sometimes even shy away from live coverage of events, lest it interrupt their heavily produced athelete-bio strewn feel good nightly hours, so the time zone difference really only matters for events that would be shown live, either online or via cable networks, all much more lightly watched.

Does anyone think that "hey, I've been there on vacation" really matters for Olympic ratings? And even if it does, have that many more Americans been to Brazil than, say,  Spain?

And the idea that Rio will somehow up the ratings due to the US Latino viewers strikes me as similarly silly. First of all, relatively few US Latinos are from Brazil. Will other US Latinos watch more Olympic coverage from Brazil vs. Tokyo or Madrid? Most US Latinos don't speak Portuguese.

What will be good for ratings is Michael Phelps II (or the equivalent). No way to predict that ahead of time. I don't think any non-US location is better than any other for US TV ratings.

 
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