The Olympics and Blaming Millenials

(Note: I’m not sure why these two articles bugged me so much. But they did.)

There was a somewhat poorly written (or, at least, poorly titled) article on Bloomberg (shocker) about the down ratings for the Olympics on NBC. In typical Bloomberg fashion, it’s a clickbait title (who can resist blaming millenials), as the article itself points out that it’s the 18–49 demographic that saw ratings down (with no breakdown inside that demo to determine where the real drop was).

And in the 18-to–49-year-old age group coveted by advertisers, it’s been even worse. That audience has been 25 percent smaller, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

In response, a millenial (presumably) attempted to defend his peers and lash out at NBC (though, really, it was more about the cable industry) and the inability for the cable/broadcast industry to meet the needs of cord cutters.

The issue I have with the article isn’t so much the argument. I agree that the cable and TV industries are going to have to change the way they think about the broadcast model. And, while it may not be changing as fast as we’d want, it’s changing incredibly fast!

Think about that ten years ago, being a cord cutter meant using an antenna, borrowing DVDs from the library, and maybe downloading a show from iTunes.

Today, you could conceivably use Hulu, Netflix, HBO, Sling TV, and iTunes, and probably cover everything except live sports. And ESPN may be going over the top in the next year. That’s progress.

The article, however, takes almost 1800 words to complain about how difficult it was to watch the Olympics online without a cable subscription and then complains about too many advertisements and the lowest common denominator announcing during the opening ceremonies, as if these are new things. And, while cord cutters are a growing audience, it’s still something like 80% of households who have cable. Cord cutters alone didn’t cause the audience to drop.

No, it’s not until the last segment of the article, which mostly hits on what I believe to be part of the real reason for the ratings being down:

It opened with Simone Biles and Co., but then, despite being filmed earlier in the day, inexplicably goes from the earlier rounds of Gymnastics to Swimming. Hours pass before we finally get to see the resolution to those Gymnastics rounds

The ratings were down because NBC couldn’t figure out how to show events in real time to both the East and West Coasts. With clips showing up online, on ESPN, on Twitter, the audience&emdash;millenials or not&emdash;couldn’t be bothered to stay up until 11:30pm ET to watch the gymnastics finals that had already happened that day. Or worse, for the half of the country on the West Coast, that had happened many hours before.

NBC’s real crime is not figuring out how to get more of the core live events in front of the audience when it was live. Live sports are the only thing left that really can keep audiences from cutting the cord, and NBC (while well intentioned with their wall-to-wall online coverage) forgot that.

In the end, Bloomberg incorrectly blamed millenials, and, in turn, millenials (or this millenial responded in the stereotypically myopic millenial way.

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