Saturday Olympic Ratings Strong; NBC Sorry for Japan Remark

Highlights from media coverage of the Pyeongchang Olympics:

SORRY: NBC apologized to South Korea for a remark by analyst Joshua Cooper Ramo on Friday's coverage of the opening ceremony. Ramo credited Japan as an influence for South Korea's resurgence over the past three decades. That angered many South Koreans with memories of Japan as an occupying force from 1910 to 1945. Ramo, a former journalist hired temporarily for his expertise on the area, won't be back on NBC's Olympic broadcasts; the network said Sunday his assignment ended with the opening ceremony.

MOVIN' MIKE: Maybe the hallmark of Mike Tirico as NBC's prime-time host is his movement. After opening Thursday night on a set that seemed borrowed from a bad science-fiction movie, on Saturday he was on a homey set that looked like a ski lodge. On Sunday, he traveled to the ice skating arena to anchor the show, enabling some face time with Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir. If NBC gets mad at Tirico, they can send him to the top of a mountain on a 6-degree day.

SKATING SHOW: So far, so good for Lipinski and Weir in their first Olympics as NBC's lead skating analysts. They've been solid, with less of the "look at me!" vibe of Sochi. The two have done their homework, yet they haven't forgotten that many of their viewers watch skating infrequently. Neither is afraid to be critical, and Thursday's disaster-filled opening was described exactly as it was. Enthusiasm for American Adam Rippon on Sunday didn't sound like cheerleading because it was backed by specifics. "He has a boisterous personality but this program is all about his skating," Weir said. "He really lets his blades speak for him."

SPEECHLESS: "The luge world will be speechless!" NBC's Leigh Diffey said after two-time gold medalist Felix Loch of Germany muffed his last run to miss the medal podium . "I am speechless," analyst Duncan Kennedy then said. Well, you want enthusiastic announcers, right? Diffey had one nifty moment when he described how Loch's father and coach, a former Olympian himself, had "taken off his coach's hat to console his son."

RATINGS: An estimated 21.4 million viewers watched NBC's prime-time coverage on Saturday night, with the number increasing to 24.2 million when consumption on the digital live stream and NBCSN cable network are added. Both figures are down from the 25.1 million who watched the corresponding Saturday in Sochi four years ago. But it was a better showing than the first Saturday night from the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro two years ago. NBC's dominance of the TV landscape was thorough: ABC, CBS and Fox had a combined 6.1 million viewers for their prime-time fare.

LONG SKI: NBC's team of Al Trautwig and Chad Salmela set the stage and smartly conveyed the drama when Norwegian Simen Hegstad Krueger came back to win the 30-kilometer cross-country skiathlon after falling on the first lap. Amateur psychology isn't their thing, though. Salmela noted at one point that Norway's Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo looked like he was struggling physically, "but I think he's faking it" to deke opponents. Apparently not, since Klaebo finished way out of the running.


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