Despite the ubiquitous #NBCFail that seemed to follow the network’s Olympics coverage from the Opening Ceremony, when they skipped the 9/11 tribute, to the Closing Ceremony, where they skipped Muse’s performance of the official Olympics song, US audiences watched the hell out of the Olympics this year.
NBC is now reporting that 219 million Americans in total watched the games in some capacity, making it the most-viewed event in TV history. The Closing Ceremony, which also skipped Kate Bush and The Who in addition to its own official song by Muse, drew 31 million viewers alone.
It was an Olympics of firsts: First games to generate memes. First games to see athletes kicked out for racist tweets. (And the first games to have a reporter’s Twitter account shut down for insulting NBC.) First games on “tape delay.” And first games to spawn their own unofficial hashtag: #NBCFail.
But riddled as it was with problems, and self-aware as we all seem to be of the goofiness of tuning in to watch people excel at sports you won’t give a damn about for the next four years, we all watched the hell out of the games. The next Olympics are in 2014 in Sochi, Russia. Hopefully the most serious fails in Putin’s Russia will still be on NBC’s end. But one things seems pretty sure—whatever happens, we’ll watch it.