Today marked the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, which by all accounts was a successful event. I happen to hold the not-so-popular opinion that the Winter Games, in all their icy and awkward glory, are far superior to the Summer Games. Whereas the Summer Olympics feature more conventional sports, the Winter Olympics are chock-full of wonderfully weird, esoteric events – like curling, for instance – that make you go “what is happening right now?”. Also, figure skating and Johnny Weir… enough said.
But I digress. The point is, the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony kicked off today with the usual amount of fanfare surrounding such things. However, there will be a few differences in NBC’s coverage of the event than in years past. NBC’s broadcast of the 2016 Summer Games in Rio sparked a firestorm among viewers, who objected to the number of ads ran during the telecast, and lambasted the network for airing the event on a tape-delay.
In the hope of avoiding a similar backlash in 2018, NBC has made a few changes for the Pyeongchang games. This year the event was live streamed for the first time ever, 14 hours before the fully produced, primetime coverage hosted by Katie Couric and Mike Tirico that will air tonight at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on NBC. And most notably for us, NBC has reduced its ad load for its primetime coverage of the opening ceremony by 30 percent, making ad time during the ceremony “a slightly more precious place to be” for brands, according to NBC Sports Group’s EVP of Ad Sales, Dan Lovinger.
We’ll see if these efforts keep viewers satisfied this time around. I have a feeling that as long as everyone’s favorite shirtless Tongan is featured prominently enough, there will be no cause for complaint.