An Olympic Impact on Late Local News Viewing – Infographic

We recently set out to discover the impact of the 2016 Rio Olympics on late local news viewing behavior. To complete this analysis, we evaluated ten local NBC stations across the country utilizing our very own Spark Station Analytics. We analyzed late local news viewing trends during the two weeks leading up to the Olympics, the two weeks that the Olympics took place, and the two weeks following the completion of the games.

Our goal was to better understand what impact an event like the Olympics has on the local affiliates when they broadcast unique and rare TV events. Do viewers continue to watch the station immediately following the completion of the event (in this case the late local news)? Does the increased brand exposure that the station experiences during the special event lead to the development of new loyal viewers? The infographic below answers these questions and more.

Primary Findings:

  • Station’s late local news experienced an average share increase of 189% during the Olympics (8.63% share before and after, 24.96% share during)
  • Beach volleyball and swimming lead to the highest tune-in of late local news immediately following the Olympic events
  • Late local news share decreased significantly in week 2 of the games (28.71% in week 1 vs. 20.60% in week 2) mirroring the decrease of total Olympics viewing
  • Total late local news reach increased by an average of 93.7% during the games

Did the Olympics help convert new loyal news viewers?

The short answer ­– it does not appear so. We didn’t expect an enormous increase in the late local news share when comparing the data from the two weeks leading into the Olympics with the two weeks after. However, we were surprised to see the numbers come out identical (8.6% average share for both before and after) indicating that special TV events don’t serve as a silver bullet for local news in the long run.

If airing the Olympics on a station for two weeks and exposing a significant number of new viewers to the station’s late local news isn’t enough to convert any viewers to loyalists, there isn’t a single program that can serve as lead-in for the late local news that can be relied upon to do so. Stations must commit to providing value during the newscast to attract viewers and cannot simply rely on programming placement or special programming to increase news viewership long term.

Olympic Impact on Late Local News


  • The data is compiled from ten NBC affiliated local stations across the United States.
  • Share percentage represents the portion active devices tuned to a specific program or station during a selected time period.
  • Reach is determined by the number of active devices viewing a specific program.
Ryan Walker
Ryan Walker
Director of Marketing
Ryan has over 7 years of marketing experience including digital marketing, content marketing, PR, and branding. Outside of work, Ryan is an avid golfer and fly-fisherman.