Mike Tirico, NBC, began Friday's opening ceremonies by stating, "Just over six months ago, in Tokyo, we stated that we were about embark on an Olympics unlike no other." We're now on the verge of surpassing that.
Ratings have seen record lows, but they have been topped.
NBC has been the lowest-rated broadcaster of the Winter Games, according to the four competition nights. Friday night's coverage by NBC, USA Network, and Peacock attracted 12.8 million viewers on average, a significant drop from the 27.8million average in Pyeongchang four year ago.
Thursday night's 8 million audience was the lowest ever recorded audience for primetime Olympics, surpassing the 9,000,000 who tuned in to the Tokyo Games closing ceremony.
NBC witnessed a steady rise in viewers on Saturday and Sunday, but ratings are still down more than half compared with Pyeongchang. Preliminary numbers from Saturday show 13.6million, and 13.7million from Sunday.
These numbers are not surprising, but they are quite shocking. The factors that contributed to the strained relations between China and the United States, as well as another Olympics being held during the COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of excitement surrounding the Games, were significant.
Neal Pilson, who was the former president and CEO of CBS Sports, said that there are many subliminal factors that can be negative when it comes down to an event happening in China. He also runs his own consulting firm for sports television. It just adds to the obvious problems and leads to the American public not being as interested in this year's Games.
Since 2006, the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics was the first night to average at least 30,000,000 viewers. The average audience for the Tokyo Olympics was 20 million, which is only one night of the 17 that were broadcast. It also produced the nine lowest Summer Games primetime audiences since 1992.
Tokyo was also the first place where the previous Winter Games had averaged a larger audience. Beijing is also the first Olympics to be held six months apart since 1992.
"The sky is not falling. Yes, there have been some challenges that have made things more difficult for us. We had a realistic view of the audience we were going to reach, and we deliver what we promised to the marketing community," Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBCUniversal Television, said. "But our trend line looks pretty good. The last three days have seen an increase in ratings. "America is discovering the Olympics," we feel.
Tokyo's primetime viewership fell 47% in 2016 compared to Rio de Janeiro. If NBC is able to maintain that decline in primetime viewership from 2016 at the same level, it should be considered a victory.
NBC is not all bad, even though the numbers are grim. Primetime coverage is still the most watched on network television. It won all four nights in a significant way. Comparing 2018 to 2022, no of the shows that were popular four years ago are on the air today have a larger audience.
The Oscars is another example of how TV ratings have plummeted. The average viewership was 43.7 million in 2014, but it dropped to 23.6 millions four years later and only 10.6 million in 2014.
Advertisers will be able to benefit from NBC's dominance of all 17 nights at the Beijing Games.
"The ability of attracting such a large audience over the span of a 17-18-day stretch is unbelievably strong," Pete Bevacqua, chairman of NBC Sports, said via telephone from Beijing. "I believe that everyone in our industry would love to be able to enjoy the power of the Olympic Games. It has the power to bring together an audience like no other.
NBC released Monday night a statement saying that although the average number of ads they air is 33% less than other broadcast networks, Olympic coverage has received 24% more viewers than the second-most-viewed.
Streaming continues to grow despite the fact that television viewers are declining. The fastest ever Winter Games streaming time was reached in the first four days with over 1 billion minutes. This puts NBC/Peacock on pace for surpassing the total of 2.17 miliarde minutes from Pyeongchang at the end of the week.
The Tokyo Games set the record for Olympic games at 4.48 billion minutes. The 2014 Winter Games in Sochi (Russia) lasted 420 million minutes.
Peacock is now the central place for all of NBC’s Olympic coverage. It makes navigation across the streaming platform much easier.
Bevacqua stated that "I believe we have improved it exponentially compared to where we were with Tokyo." "That was a long process, and we had to do some things to get to that point.
NBC hopes that the ratings rebound will be helped by the three next Olympics. Paris hosts the 2024 Summer Games, followed by Milan Cortina (2026 Winter), and Los Angeles (2028 Summer).
Some have criticized NBC's broadcasting from Beijing. However, they did not establish Beijing in 2014 when they signed a $7.75 million deal with the International Olympic Committee to ensure rights through 2032. Lazarus pointed out that Almaty, Kazakhstan was also a finalist, despite its history of human rights abuses, and being in the middle a major internal conflict.
He stated, "When a fan or marketer watches the telecasts they are not supporting China or any other political agenda that China has." They support the U.S. athletes.