NBC loves Utah. A lot.
Because Utahns love watching the Olympics on TV. A lot.
As so often has been the case over the past couple of decades, the Salt Lake television market leads the nation in Olympics viewing. We were No. 1 each of the first four nights that NBC has aired prime-time coverage from Pyeongchang; we fell a bit to No. 2 (behind Denver) on Day 5.
(That’s as far as the numbers go as of this writing.)
And we’re waaaaay ahead of the nation as a whole. Nationally, NBC’s telecast of the Opening Ceremony averaged a 14.7 rating and a 27 share — big numbers.
Here in Utah, the Opening Ceremony averaged a 29.6 rating and a 55 share — downright astonishing numbers.
A rating point equals 1 percent of the TV-equipped homes, either nationally or in a specific market. A share point equals 1 percent of the homes where somebody is actually watching TV at a given time.
And by the way, the Salt Lake TV market includes all of Utah and parts of Idaho, Wyoming and Nevada.
NBC estimates an average of 28.3 million people watched the Opening Ceremony on Friday; an additional 449,000, on average, streamed the coverage online.
If the nation as a whole watched at the same rate as Utahns, that number would be close to 60 million viewers.
That would be more viewers than everything on TV except the Super Bowl.
The Tara and Johnny show
Yes, Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir said mean things about Utahn Nathan Chen’s performance at the Olympics last week. Although it’s more accurate to say that Weir and Lipinski said truthful things about Chen’s unexpectedly bad performance in the men’s short program of the team figure skating competition.
No, it wasn’t easy to hear Lipinski tell viewers that Chen was “tentative and slow.” It was difficult — even annoying — to hear Weir call Chen’s routine “disastrous.”
But it was disastrous, according to people who actually know something about figure skating. (Not me.) Chen committed three major errors: He turned a quadruple jump into a double, he failed to add a triple toe loop to his first quad and he fell attempting a triple axel. Which was REALLY hard for hometown fans to watch.
Some viewers took offense when Weir declared it “the worst short program I’ve ever seen from Nathan Chen.” Even though nobody actually disputed the accuracy of that statement. Not even Chen.
“I’m really upset that I let the team down with that short program,” Chen told NBC. “Definitely not what I wanted to put out.”
To some degree, Lipinski and Weir brought this criticism on themselves. They’re sometimes snarky and snotty, which has proved to be very entertaining when they’re commenting on figure skating — and when they’re commenting on fashion at the Oscars, the Kentucky Derby and the 2016 Summer Olympics. Or when they’re offering opinions at the National Dog Show.
But their act can make them seem less credible than they actually are when it comes to analyzing figure skating.
They’re extremely credible. Lipinski was the U.S. champion in 1997 and the Olympic gold medalist in 1998. Weir is a two-time Olympian and a three-time U.S. champion.
The irony here is that NBC often has been criticized for cheerleading and being unfailingly pro-American in its Olympic coverage. And when NBC analysts Lipinski and Weir don’t sugarcoat their analysis, they’re slammed for that.
So no, you’re never going to make everyone happy.