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After slow start, Ch.2's ratings for Rio are improving as usual coverage complaints arise

This is what I’m thinking in my Olympic diary:

Western New York viewers aren’t as enamored with the Rio Olympics in prime time as much as expected or as much as they were for the Summer Games in London in 2012. But it is getting close.

The opening ceremonies on Friday night had a 15.4 rating on Channel 2, ranking it 21st among 56 NBC stations in overnight ratings.

The rating slipped to an 11.8 on Saturday, putting Buffalo 35th among NBC affiliates.

The local rating soared to an 18.1 on Sunday, the night Michael Phelps won a gold medal in the relay, swimming star Katie Ledecky won a gold medal in the 400 meter freestyle and the women’s gymnastics team dominated. But even that was only tied for No. 29 among NBC affiliates.

The disappointing performance of the men’s gymnastics team – much of which was pushed to late night from prime time – didn't help Monday’s ratings. But the 19.1 rating still was the highest for Channel 2 so far in Rio and the second night in a row that it was higher than the corresponding night in 2012 for the London Games. The rating peaked at a around a 23 for some of the live swimming events.

Over the first four nights, prime time ratings on Channel 2 are down about 11 percent.

Of course, NBC is streaming everything live -- including today’s women’s gymnastics team finals at 3 p.m. -- before showing it on tape delay tonight.

In addition, many WNYers have the advantage of watching more events live on CBC’s Toronto affiliate. However, CBC isn’t rated in American markets so it is impossible to say how high its viewership has been.

The social networks Sunday night were loaded with the typical complaints about NBC’s coverage – it is too American centric, there are too many commercials and too much of the competition (gymnastics) is tape delayed.

One amusing moment came when the results of the women’s gymnastics competition dominated by the U.S. women was revealed much earlier than NBC aired the taped delayed coverage.

I understand the complaints because I hear them every two years.  But NBC consistently says it has research that shows that when viewers know Americans do well it actually enhances the viewership of taped coverage.

As far as the commercial load, NBC reportedly is paying a rights fee of about $1.2 billion. CBC, a national public broadcaster, pays a small fraction of the American figure. No financial details were revealed when it won the rights to Rio, though the figure $160 million was thrown out by some stories online. Of course, Canada’s population is about one-ninth the population of the United States.

NBC had some terrific pre-race footage Monday of U.S. breast stroke gold medalist Lilly King warming up before her rival, Russia’s Yulia Efimova, before their race and of South Africa’s Chad le Close stare down of Michael Phelps before their semifinal heat. However, the announcers seemed to exaggerate the gamesmanship a little and played mind readers in guessing what the Americans were thinking.

I thought I had a great plan for the taped opening ceremonies Friday night: DVR it and speed through all the commercials. However, there was one glitch. I only DVRed until midnight, which resulted in missing the lighting of the Olympic torch. Silly me thought NBC would stick to the schedule. It ended at 12:30 p.m.

Interestingly, the CBC telecast is a second or so ahead of NBC on cable on live events. It is even more than a second if you watch CBC over the air via an antenna. You can get it in high definition that way. CBC isn’t carried on FiOS.

Channel 2 could be accused of plagiarizing Hillary Clinton’s campaign slogan. The station's new promo campaign slogan is “Together we’re better.” Clinton’s slogan is “we’re better together.”  Maybe Channel 7 will copy Donald Trump: “Make 7 Great Again.”

It sure was painful Sunday night watching the painful expressions of the parents of U.S. Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman watching their daughter perform Sunday. Their squirming to their daughter’s every move becoming a viral sensation, as it did during the London Games. Undoubtedly, they will be squirming again today as their daughter competes.

apergament@buffnews.com

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