Winter Olympics were profitable for NBC

Associated Press | USA Today | Deadline | The Washington Post

The Winter Olympics “will comfortably turn a profit” for NBC, David Bauder reports for the Associated Press. Ratings were decent: “NBC’s prime-time viewership averaged 22.1 million people through Friday,” Bauder reports. “Although fading at the end, that number should still land between the 2010 Vancouver games (24.4 million), which had the advantage of live prime-time events, and the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy (20.2 million).”

Jim Bell, NBC’s executive producer for the Olympics, told Bauder, “This is the most dominant Olympics in prime-time ever.”

USA Today’s Robert Bianco generally liked NBC’s coverage, praising in particular Bob Costas, Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski (the latter two were such a hit they’re heading off to do Oscar coverage). But Bianco said NBC’s now-infamous Bode Miller interview pointed to a larger problem — it was part of an “obvious effort to complete a narrative NBC set and kept setting in advance: The driving power of grief.”

All of us harbor some grief in our lives, and all of us will release it if pressed hard enough. That doesn’t mean loss is what’s motivating us — or is in the forefront of our consciousness — at that moment. It’s just possible that every single person who wins a medal does not want to dedicate it to a dead spouse, sibling, parent or friend. Assuming they do — and pushing them to cry about it — is the worst kind of lazy, sob-sister journalism, and a good example of when too much is actually too much.

Grief wasn’t a big part of Sunday’s closing ceremonies, at least when it came to their most shareable moment, at least for “American media outlets that marveled to learn Russians have a sense of humor,” as Lisa De Moraes wrote for Deadline.

During the Olympics’ closing ceremonies, performers re-created the ring that didn’t open on Feb. 7.

The failed-ring joke also touched on another undercurrent in Western media coverage of Sochi, the Russian-American journalist Vladimir Pozner told Liz Clarke:

“The picture that was created was very negative in the Western media,” said Pozner, who spent his formative years in New York, Paris and Moscow, son of a Russian father and French mother. “I don’t think that media in general has been objective or even tried to be objective. The Cold War mentality is still very much alive. Russia is seen in the West as basically negative.”

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  • Simon DelMonte

    Of course it was dominant in prime time. The other networks rolled over and played dead. I suspect the 280 million or so Americans who didn’t watch might have gladly stuck with the shows they usually watch. I know I would have.