In Rio de Janiero, there will likely be a political crisis, global health crisis and financial crisis. By all accounts, it will be a disaster and could deter tourists, athletes and even network personalities from making the trip. For tournament organizers and city officials in Rio, the tournament may be a failure before even having started.
For executives at NBC, however, none of that will matter. Ultimately, people will still watch the Olympics. It’s one of the most popular sporting events in the world and one of the few that pulls in people who don’t normally watch sports. The allure of the Olympics is too great for people not to watch. The only thing that could potentially alter viewership is a U.S. boycott which we already know won’t happen. As long as America is involved, people will watch in droves. The circumstances around the games may only drive more viewership as more people will have read something about the Olympics beforehand.
Even if news stories about Zika draw huge attention, come prime time, the nation will be tuned to Bob Costas and NBC no matter what.