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Rio Olympics Drives Netflix U.S. Viewing Down 10% Over Opening Weekend (Study)

Netflix traffic dropped by about 10% on several U.S. broadband networks this past weekend as viewers tuned in to the 2016 Summer Olympics on NBC’s networks and streaming services, according to data from Procera Networks.

Still, the 2016 Olympics opening ceremony from Rio didn’t have the same kind of drawing power of the London Olympics in 2012, when Netflix usage dropped almost 25% on some Internet networks, Procera noted. Indeed, NBC’s ratings for last Friday’s opening ceremony garnered the lowest rating for a Summer Olympics since the 1992 games in Atlanta. Meanwhile, NBC live-streamed the London opening ceremonies but broadcast the festivities on TV on a three-and-a-half hour delay, which likely drove up Internet streaming four years ago.

Although NBC’s primetime TV ratings for Rio have lagged the 2012 games, the broadcaster has touted record streaming activity: On Saturday, NBC Olympics platforms delivered 155 million live-streaming minutes, up 263% compared with Day Two of the 2012 games, and registered 11.3 million unique users (up 7%).

Procera, which sells bandwidth-management equipment to ISPs, found a roughly 10% drop-off in Netflix bandwidth consumption for Aug. 6-7 compared with average traffic the preceding four days on the networks of four large providers. The company did not disclose the names of the ISP customers from which it collected the data.

Netflix declined to comment on the Procera numbers. But the company previously said it anticipates the Olympics to depress subscriber growth around the world for the third quarter of 2016. Netflix expects to add 300,000 net U.S. subs for Q3 (versus 880,000 in the year-ago quarter) and 2.3 million internationally (compared with 3.62 million last year).

“Our global membership forecast for Q3 includes an impact from the spectacle of the Olympics, on par with what we experienced four years ago,” Netflix said in its Q2 letter to shareholders.

Netflix also said the third-quarter forecast will not include any lift in the U.S. from its deal with Comcast to integrate the streaming service with the cable giant’s X1 service. The timing of the launch is uncertain, “as we and Comcast will only release Netflix on the X1 when the viewer experience is great,” the streamer said.

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