Sochi Olympics not an eleventy billion draw

CBC Olympic team members David Amber, Diane Swain, Ron MacLean,
Andrew Chang, Andi Petrillo and Scott Russell 

After a few days, Canada is kicking ass in Sochi–but are we watching the Games on television?
Well, yes, but the CBC broadcast numbers, as expected, are well down from the giddy levels the CTV-Rogers consortium enjoyed four years ago at the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.
Besides giving up the home court advantage, the staggering time difference is the biggest factor. CBC drew an overnight, estimated 3,325,000 viewers Sunday for its live daytime coverage and another 2,635,000 Sunday afternoon. By prime time, however, the recap audience had dwindled to 1,415,000. CBC’s prime time Olympic telecast Sunday was, surprisingly (given the big wins that day by Canada), beaten by CTV’s simulcast of The Night That Changed America:  a Grammy Salute to The Beatles (an estimated 1.5 million).

In the U.S., where there are far fewer live daytime Olympic moments, NBC captured 26.32 million with its packaged prime time coverage against CBS’s two hour Beatles special (14.05 million).
On Saturday, CBC drew 2,669,000 with its live daytime Olympic coverage. Hockey Night in Canada games Saturday drew 1,019,000 in the afternoon and 2,252,000 for the Leafs game at night. The prime time Olympic recap had an avg. min. audience of 1,755,000.
Friday’s opening ceremonies were a big draw when CBC carried them live during the day, pulling an estimated 2,513,000. An afternoon replay drew 1,178,000 and the prime time package 2,385,000.
This is well off the eleventy-billion-million the CTV-Rogers consortium claimed in Feb., 2010 for the start of the Vancouver games. That actual, overnight, estimated number was 13.3 million for the consortium, with 8,948,000 of those on CTV alone.
Those already sky-high numbers would soar as the 2010 Games charged towards the hockey finals. The portable people meters, however, were new and that BBM CUME seemed still in the Beta stage.  All ratings in Canada had enjoyed a suspiciously high lift in the months since the PPM’s were introduced the preceding fall, up 25% across network and specialty. Episodes of House on Global were drawing north of four million. Evening shows on YTV and Family were suddenly million+ draws as kids sleeping in the next rooms, along with cats, dogs and goldfish, were seemingly being counted through walls.
While the 2010 Olympics may have been boosted by “Ratings ‘Roids,” and the time zone shift is a killer, another factor in the decline in this year’s CBC Olympic television numbers is the migration to on-line viewing. CBC’s ratings release Tuesday, which suggested that “Canadians are engaging in the Olympic Winter Games like never before,” must have been referring to the upswing in mobile viewing. CBC says that, as of Monday afternoon, there has been over a million downloads of the CBC Olympic Games app and that Canadians have streamed just under 1.4 million hours of Live and On-demand video on the CBC Olympics website.
For a critical assessment of how the games have been covered so far, from both sides of the border, go here to this report I filed Monday for The Canadian Press.

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