THE LINDSEY VONN SHOW: NBC identified Lindsey Vonn and Shaun White as its two stars of the Olympics going in, and with White's games over, was intent upon riding with Vonn to the bottom of the mountain. The focus bordered on the excessive, with the pre-race catalogue of her injuries, the l-o-n-g lingering camera shot as she waited for the starting gate to open and the two separate post-race interviews by Heather Cox. In the second interview, Cox followed NBC's cringeworthy, get 'em to cry playbook by asking about a dead relative. In this case, it paid off because Cox stuck with her and, her emotions unleashed, Vonn talked movingly about her career and likely last hurrah at the Olympics.
LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE: It was plain how determined NBC was to not repeat the embarrassment of the super-G competition when announcer Dan Hicks pronounced the race over before it was. And the network nearly succeeded. The downhill had roughly the same structure, with the last dozen or so racers having very little chance to win. This time NBC stuck with coverage nearly to the end, through racers that showed you why they had very little chance to win, forcing Hicks and partner Bode Miller to fill space through skiing's version of basketball's garbage time. Then, with nine racers left to go, a graphic flashed on the screen with the top three finishers and the still-premature label of "final results."
MILLER TIME: Miller's had a rough Olympics, but he's capable of insights you can only get from a recent, serious competitor. To an outsider, snow is snow. But Miller spotted a rough patch that caused one competitor to wipe out and spoke of the impact of different consistencies of snow. He also took the bold stance of suggesting the key factor in gold medal winner Sofia Goggia's victory was her chosen starting time, fifth among all the skiers. We're still hoping to learn what he means by the observation that a skier is taking an aggressive line.
MILLER TIME, PART TWO: Is this Miller's first and last Olympics with NBC? He sounded wistful hearing the story of Goggia working as a television commentator when she missed the Sochi Olympics due to an injury and when asked how she liked it, replied, "I like being a competitor a lot more." Responded Miller: "I can agree with that."
SECOND CHOICE: NBC is getting the hang of using its NBCSN cable network as a complement to network coverage. On Tuesday, for example, the cable network gave extensive coverage of figure skating, allowing NBC the flexibility to stay longer on the downhill race and show more of the breadth of Olympic competition. It still needs to better communicate the choices that viewers have.
RATINGS: An estimated 18.6 million viewers watched the Olympics in prime time Monday on either NBC, the cable network NBCSN or streaming services. That's down 21 percent from the 23.5 million viewers who saw the Olympics on the corresponding Monday night in Sochi four years ago. The 16.3 million who watched the NBC telecast Monday was down 31 percent from Sochi. NBC says the average prime-time viewership for the Pyeongchang Games is 21.1 million, but no individual evening has topped the 20 million figure since last Tuesday.
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