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Olympics a surprising win for NBC

The Olympic logo is seen in the arrival area at the Whistler Creek side Alpine Skiing venue of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Steve Chiotakis: The broadcast network NBC is scoring a ratings win for its coverage of the winter olympics in Vancouver, beating top programs most of last week. It is a gamble that now seems to be paying off. Deena Myers is an analyst at SNL Kagen, a market research firm, and she joins us this morning. Good morning.

Deena Myers: Good morning.

Chiotakis: So NBC said it was going to lose somewhere, what was it, $200 [million], $250 million from these games. I mean if that's the case, what could possibly have been the rational going in to buy the rights?

Myers: They've always made money in the past, and they assume that they're going to make it in the future when they bought these rights. So, you know, the money they paid for it was legitimate at the time.

Chiotakis: It's been six years perhaps since American Idol had any competition, or really any program that has topped American Idol on Fox, and NBC did that with the Olympics coverage last week. I mean these are the highest-rated games since Salt Lake City eight years ago. Did they see this coming?

Myers: I don't really think anyone saw this coming. I think going into this, people thought that it wasn't going to be a highly-rated games. And going up against American Idol, that's tough.

Chiotakis: So if the fact that this is, you know, a surprise to the programmers at NBC, which has been the fourth network in the ratings now for a few years, how do they capitalize on this?

Myers: With promotions for other programs. They have a huge shake-up there in their primetime schedule, so they want to really promote Jay Leno moving back into late night, new programs such as Parenthood coming up. You know, that really helps. It also helps with other programs; ratings at the Today Show have been up during the Olympics, you know, it helps with their affiliates in the local news hour after the Olympics.

Chiotakis: Deena, what's the most interesting thing to you, when you look at this whole scenario?

Myers: I think it's really interesting that the big sports rights deals are moving to cable, and the Olympics have just, you know, really been on the broadcast network since the beginning. So I think it's really interesting that right now is the first time we're going to see maybe the move to a cable network. And so that's why you really have ABC and ESPN in play for the next two rights that are up.

Chiotakis: Deena Myers, senior analyst at SNL Kagen, thank you for being with us today.

Myers: Thank you for having me.

About the author

Steve Chiotakis was the host of Marketplace Morning Report until January 2012.

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