Heading into the Summer Olympics the smart money had NBC bleeding lots of red ink and struggling to land a big audience in an era of jaded viewers watching cynical and expletive reality shows.
The smart money was wrong.
Instead, NBC executives will leave London smiling. At worst, NBC and its parent, Comcast Corp., will break even on the games and may even make a tiny profit. NBC averaged 31.1 million viewers for the 17 nights of coverage it aired and overall almost 220 million people watched some of the games.
That huge audience also became a platform for NBC to promote its fall shows and even get some sampling for a few of them. In addition, the games boosted its morning show "Today," which is struggling to put some distance between itself and ABC's "Good Morning America."
No, a big audience for the Olympics does not mean NBC will suddenly be the most popular network when the fall season starts. Just because 30 million people saw a promo for a show, that doesn't mean they'll all tune in like lap dogs when it debuts a month later.