An average of 11.4 million spectators watched the Beijing Olympics on NBCUniversal platforms each night – the smallest prime-time audience on record for any Winter Olympics and far surpassing that of any other Winter Olympics. 19.8 million nightly viewers for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.
Over two weeks of coverage, starting with cold opening show 4 and ended Sunday, drew a total of 160 million viewers on NBC television, the Peacock streaming service and other platforms, NBCUniversal said Monday.
Dramatic storylines ramped up during NBCUniversal’s 2,800 hours of coverage, but little served an audience that might have been craving escape quests and stories of victory. Pandemic restrictions force competitions to take place in the bubble. The result: most of the stands were empty and NBC announcers like Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski had to move their dispatches from a compound in Connecticut.
Some of the most memorable episodes lack the uplifting, inspirational qualities that make up Olympic blockbuster broadcasts. Mikaela Shiffrinan American skier, who won three Olympic medals before arriving in Beijing, tripped miserably in several events and left empty-handed. Kamila Valieva15 year old Russian figure skater, disbanded while her freestyle skating while overcoming a doping scandal. As she stepped off the ice, her coach assessed her on camera.
Geopolitical tensions also drag on the Olympics. China tries to eliminate the Game of Political Overtones using bots and fake accounts. And concerns about the welfare of Chinese players Peng Shuaiwho last year accused a political official of sexual abuse, threatening to overshadow the Olympics.
“The Olympic brand is really struggling. Tang Tang, a communications professor at Kent State University who has studied the Olympics, said.
The Beijing Olympics lacked the kind of powerhouse narrative that made American swimmers Michael Phelps and him eight gold medals into must-see TV in 2008. One of the breakout stars of this year’s Olympics, Chinese-American skier Eileen Gu, compete for China rather than the United States. And the players in National Hockey League did not participate.
“Audiences watch the Olympics for the stories. They need that superhero story, that star quality,” said Professor Tang. “They don’t really see the Olympics as a real sporting event, but something more personal.”
In 2014, NBCUniversal bought the US rights to broadcast the Olympics through 2032 for $7.75 billion. But the Beijing Games, and in Tokyo six months before, were a logistical challenge. Tokyo Olympics was drawn smallest audience since NBCUniversal started covering the Summer Olympics in 1988.
In Beijing, NBCUniversal struggles with a 13-hour time difference from New York, which means social media and news bulletins often deliver Olympic results long before viewers watch a broadcast. The company says this year’s Olympics are the most streamed Winter Olympics ever, with 4.3 billion minutes streamed across digital media and social networks.
Prior to this month, NBCUniversal had told advertisers that ratings for the Beijing Olympics would be lower than for the Pyeongchang event. The company said on Monday that its coverage in Beijing topped everything on primetime television other than the NFL.
The biggest night of this year’s Olympics is February 13, when 24 million people watch, many of them likely from NBCUniversal’s Broadcast Super Bowl. The football game drew 112 million viewers, accounting for 70% of the total audience who watched the Olympics over two weeks.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/21/business/media/olympics-ratings.html Beijing Olympic Ranking Is Worst Of Any Winter Olympics