NBC Sports Network is still struggling to get its relaunch off the ground in the ratings department. Numerous reports have brought up time and again that the network's numbers are down from its days as Versus despite the resources NBC has committed to the makeover of the network. The latest from the New York Post has the network doing the worst numbers since its OLN days...
"According to Nielsen, NBCSN averaged 64,000 total daily viewers in the three months ended March 25, down from 82,000 viewers in the same period a year ago."
"That means it would be the least-watched since the second quarter of 2004, when OLN averaged just 51,000 viewers."
Wow. We all knew NBCSN was going to have to build from the ground up and take a step back or two, but not all the way backwards to OLN level viewership. And with rumblings about FOX trying again to compete with ESPN on a national level, NBCSN will only find their compeition increasing. Sadly, it doesn't look like NBCSN has taken any of our own ideas for original programming to bolster their lineup and attract more viewers just yet.
But, give the network credit for streamlining and updating their programming and for acquiring sports with room to grow like MLS. Heck, NBCSN has even taken to showing darts from Europe (which is actually captivating television if you're a fan of ludicrously over-the-top announcing). Darts aside, it might be another sporting event from across the pond that gives NBCSN the shot in the arm it needs to hit its stride... the Olympics...
Yes, it's hard to believe the Olympics will be sneaking up on us in just a few months from Merry Old England. And whether the blogging generation recognizes it or not, the Olympics are still the single most valuable commodity when it comes to broadcasting sports on TV. What better way to truly bring NBCSN to the fore than to stuff it with wall-to-wall Olympic coverage. And we're not talking your father's wall-to-wall style coverage, we're talking about historic levels of coverage from the London Olympiad, according to Multichannel News...
"NBC Sports Network will have more hours of Olympic coverage than any cable network has ever had," NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus told Multichannel News in an interview last week. While scheduling is still being finalized, NBC Sports Network could present as many as 300 hours from London, according to NBC Sports Group officials."
"NBC Sports Network will be the home for U.S. team sports," said Lazarus, noting that all of the domestic men's and women's basketball games (save for the finals, which will air on NBC), women's soccer, volleyball, field hockey and water polo, among others, will air on the service."
Take a minute and let the sheer volume of hours NBCSN will devote the Olympics sink in. 300 hours?! That's 12 1/2 full days of coverage! Darren Rovell will have a field day on Twitter figuring out all the things you can do in that amount of time! But even more important than the overwhelming amount of coverage is what NBCSN is planning to broadcast, namely plenty of Team USA. What better way to attract viewers to a new network than wrapping it in the flag to draw in all of the sunshine patriots that emerge during the Olympics? All of that isn't even taking into account the hours and hours of Olympic Trials NBCSN can stuff on their airwaves to go along with the NHL playoffs (a steady ratings winner) this spring.
However, the key for NBCSN will be to entice Olympic viewers with a reason to tune back in to the channel after the Games have been completed. Once the thrill of the Olympics is over will MLS and others be enough to build a consistent audience? Time will tell, but it seems like a safe bet to predict all the articles lamenting the lack of ratings for NBCSN will be but a distant memory in a few months time. Now whether they reappear in the fall... that's the important question NBC will have to answer.