Free-to-air eyeballs down on 2008 opening ceremony. But what’s with the Prime beef?

There was a bit of chatter in Australia about viewer numbers for the opening ceremony being the lowest since OzTam ratings began in 1999. So what happened in New Zealand? How did the numbers compare to Beijing in 2008? And what’s this about the Prime Underclass? 

Total audience 5+ was down from 432,590 in 2008 when the coverage was on TV One to 405,140 on Prime. Its share was down to 47.7, compared to 64.7 for One in 2008. The numbers for the other Sky channels, where the ceremony was also broadcast, were not available for release, so, given New Zealand’s penchant for pay-TV, the actual number of viewers will be a bit higher than that. 

“It’s a bit soon for other big events as we only have two days of data so far,” says Nielsen’s Kim McFadden. 

Sponsor bashing is something of an Olympic sport in its own right these days, as seen with the empty seats palaver. And so, it seems is free-to-air broadcaster bashing. NBC is getting plenty of grief in the states for its coverage (check out the entertaining NBCDelayed Twitter feed). And, yet again, a vocal minority, using the ‘Prime Underclass’ hashtag on Twitter, let their displeasure be be known at the fact that ads on Prime’s ‘live’ coverage meant the ceremony finished 45 minutes later than the uninterrupted, ad free coverage on Sky. 

Sky chief executive John Fellet told the Herald “it would be similar to TVNZ’s coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and felt the “live” advertising did not breach advertising standards. ASA head Hilary Souter said if there was an issue it would be related to the ethics code for truthful presentation.

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