NBC Olympics coverage ends with poor ratings, criticism

NBC concluded its controversial Olympic coverage on Sunday night after two weeks of bad reviews and lower than expected ratings.

The network couldn't match its robust numbers from four years ago in London. The ratings for the closing ceremony fell a staggering 31 percent from the 2012 Olympics, according to Deadline.

Just days before the closing ceremony, Deadline reported, the Rio Olympics numbers had fallen 17 percent from 2012.

Before the games began, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke said that his "nightmare" scenario would be a 20 percent ratings drop, according to Bloomberg.

Throughout the 16-day sports extravaganza, viewers ripped NBC on social media for tape delays, endless commercial breaks, and announcing blunders.

Even one of NBC's former analysts, Dwight Stones, who used to call the field events, has lambasted the network.

Olympic medalist Stones said NBC "ignored and belittled" the field events in track and field (such as the shot put and his former sport, the high jump) and called its coverage "a disgrace."

Stones, who now covers the Olympics for ESPN International, revealed to Slate that NBC's track and field producers are terrible: "They are not innovators, they do not want to do anything but play it safe…."

He's not the only one upset. Sports fans accustomed to instant Internet news were annoyed about having to wait to see events that actually took place hours before – while sitting through commercials and athlete puff pieces.

But the good news for NBC, whose parent Comcast paid $12 billion for exclusive Olympics broadcast rights in the U.S. through 2032, is that its online live streaming of events surged.

In fact, as the Los Angeles Times reported, NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus called the Rio Games "the most economically successful" in history because of the cumulative audience for coverage on all of NBCUniversal's cable networks and NBC's online streaming app.

Still, a very small amount of overall viewers streamed, according to reports.

Meanwhile, people who decided to tune in to the big prime time broadcast events were just steamed.

The discontent began during August 5's commercial flooded opening ceremony. And it didn't get better once competition started, as a man named Everett tweeted, "NBC clearly bringing home the gold medal in number of commercials."

Network promos were just as ubiquitous as ads for Chrysler.

According to AdvertisingAge, NBC and its cable networks aired more than 3,000 in-house plugs during the first 12 days of Olympics coverage, with the new sci-fi drama series "Timeless" getting particular love.

That wasn't the only complaint about NBC's coverage, though, as tape delays loomed large.

Gymnastics fans were particularly unhappy about NBC airing the ladies' finals near the witching hour.

Becky Hennessy tweeted, "Thanks @NBCOlympics It's 11:30 p.m. and I'm watching the women's gymnastics. Would have loved to share it with my kids."

Via Twitter, Samantha Burton sighed, "…I don't know if I can keep watching all of this Olympic coverage deep into the night. I'm exhausted."

Games' watchers also took potshots at announcers' insensitive comments.

Al Trautwig ruffled feathers by calling gymnast Simone Biles' adoptive parents her grandparents. He later apologized and retracted his statements.

Then, Dan Hicks was called out for sexism when he said Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu's husband Shane Tusup, who is also her coach, was "the man responsible" for her world-record breaking gold medal performance (Hicks pointed out Hosszu herself had hailed Tusup for his support).

Host Bob Costas got mocked for his interview with gymnasts Simone Biles and Aly Raisman by dwelling on their NBC-arranged meeting with Zac Efron—and their desire to eat junk food.

Raisman sensed the awkwardness and asked Costas, “Was that your best interview ever or what?”

Viewers were further outraged on Saturday night, when NBC's track and field sideline reporter Lewis Johnson told American 5,000 meters runner Paul Chelimo on live TV that he had been disqualified from the race.

Chelimo was visibly devastated, and although he was later reinstated and received the silver medal, viewers like WildGravity Travels said on Twitter that NBC "owes him an apology for embarrassing him on national tv."

But Olympics fans really howled after NBC aired a Matt Lauer interview with Ryan Lochte on Saturday night, in which the disgraced swimmer attempted to explain his shady robbed at gunpoint story. Lauren Smith tweeted that the network should be "showing actual sports, and not giving Lochte more air time."

Is it already too late for NBC to change its approach for future Olympics? Mary Louise Turner on Twitter seemed to speak for many when she wrote that NBC's credibility is "…damaged forever as a result of their dismal coverage."