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NBC said it had surpassed 2 billion minutes of live streamed action from the Rio de Janeiro Games. — PHOTO: Courtesy

While viewing numbers are down, streaming is up for Olympics

While NBC’s prime-time television ratings are down, fans are streaming the Olympics on other devices.

The network said it had surpassed 2 billion minutes of live streamed action from the Rio de Janeiro Games.

Not only does that comfortably surpass the 818 million streamed minutes for the London Games, it beats by 500 million the number for all previous Olympics combined.

Within the first three days of the Olympics, 80 percent of people who watched the games said they used at least one other device to follow what was going on. That was up from 61 percent for the Sochi Winter Olympics two years ago, NBC said.

An estimated 24.3 million people watched Monday night’s prime-time telecast on NBC, the level rising by 5 percent to 25.5 million when streaming and cable coverage is added in. For the same Monday night in London four years ago, there were 26.6 million viewers.

And the Olympics appear to be big in Utah this year. NBC said that for nine of the 11 prime-time nights of Olympics action, Salt Lake City was the market with the best ratings in the country.



NBC and Samsung have been touting their virtual-reality coverage, but the quality of the video has been such that Olympians look like video-game characters on Samsung’s Gear VR headset.

Meanwhile, 360-degree still images from Getty Images haven’t gotten as much attention, but have been stunning. NBC’s VR video relies on cameras at fixed locations off to the sides of the fields of play. With no camera operator, there’s no control over the shots. Getty gave a 360-degree camera to each of its photographers, and they’ve been able to capture the flexibility and strength of Simone Biles on the vault, and Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro diving into the crowd after winning his tennis gold medal. The images are available for free on the 360 Photos app on the Gear VR and Oculus Rift headsets.

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