Olympics 2016: 9 Network Chiefs Weigh In With Advice for Boosting Viewership

The AMC boss jokes about adding "pool zombies," while the head of History would encourage more human interest stories.
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U.S. Olympians Simon Biles (left) and Aly Raisman

As the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro drew to a close, media watchers seemed to be as focused on Simone Biles’ medal count as they were on NBC’s frayed viewership.

Despite a more favorable time zone for U.S. audiences, the network lured only 25.4 million viewers, down 18 percent from the 31 million who tuned in to the London Games four years earlier. Though NBCUniversal did manage to add another 2.1 million once live streaming and cable viewership were factored in, the ratings for the Rio Olympics still pale in comparison to those of the last Summer Games. Some attribute the double-digit declines to the quality of NBCU’s coverage; others chalk up the worrisome dip to the cannibalization that could come from the increasing availability and ease of watching the events on digital platforms.

As part of The Hollywood Reporter’s semi-annual executive survey, which will publish in full in September, we asked network chiefs across the entertainment landscape what one change they would make to the coverage if their networks aired the Olympics. Their answers, a mix of the earnest and the absurd, are below.

“Pool zombies.” — Charlie Collier, president and GM, AMC & SundanceTV

“I would try to figure out how to make it LIVE all the time.’ — Sharon Levy, executive vp, original series, Spike TV

“Make it postmodern and don't focus on who ‘wins.’ Stop measuring people. Focus on love.” — Roy Price, chief, Amazon Studios

“I would eliminate curling. They look so silly! I feel like I want to save them the humiliation.” — Chris Linn, president and head of programming, truTV

“Nothing.” — Chris Albrecht, CEO, Starz

“Allow the announcers to curse.” — Matt Cherniss, president and GM, WGN America

“More about how these athletes became great athletes as well as stuff about their lives, family and dreams.” — Jana Bennett, president and GM, History Channel

“We'd never do the Olympics.” — Cindy Holland, vp, original content, Netflix

“I'd include animals and put a cheetah in track and field and a dolphin in swimming and show that as great as humans are, we're not the best at everything.” — Courteney Monroe, CEO, National Geographic Global Networks

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