NBC Olympics ad sales up despite falling viewers and deluge of complaints

US broadcaster NBC has received a furious response from viewers for the scale and implementation of ads in its Olympics coverage - both over the air and online.

NBC Olympics ad sales up despite falling viewers and deluge of complaints

But the network says it has already sold $1.2bn (£919m) of ads during the Games – up 20% on the final revenues from London 2012, in spite of the shifting balance of media consumption over the last four years.

NBC drew 26.5 million viewers for the opening ceremony of the 2016 Games on Friday evening, down 35% on the number of Americans that tuned in for the London 2012 opening ceremony – despite this year’s event being in a friendlier time zone for US viewers.

The figures were NBC’s lowest since Athens in 2004, while the pattern was repeated on Saturday night, when the channel drew an audience 28% lower than four years ago for the first night of competition. Comcast-owned NBC will now be counting on rating to increase when recorded viewing and online consumption are factored in.

NBC’s coverage may have been affected by the decision to show the ceremony on a one-hour time delay, and with a generous helping of ads – a strategy that riled many viewers on Twitter.

The complaints were not restricted to the live broadcast either – plenty of viewers reported problems with the streaming service, with ads sometimes appearing at inopportune moments.

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