A median of 11.4 million viewers watched the Beijing Olympics on NBC Common platforms every night time — the smallest prime-time viewers on report for any Winter Video games and properly off the 19.8 million nightly viewers for the Pyeongchang Video games in 2018.
Greater than two weeks of protection, beginning with the frigid opening show on Feb. 4 and ending Sunday, drew 160 million whole viewers throughout the NBC tv channel, the Peacock streaming service and different platforms, NBC Common mentioned on Monday.
Dramatic story strains proliferated throughout NBC Common’s 2,800 hours of protection, however few catered to an viewers that will have craved escapist forays and tales of triumph. Pandemic restrictions pressured the competitions to take place in a bubble. The end result: principally empty stands, and NBC announcers comparable to Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski having to ship their dispatches from a compound in Connecticut.
A number of of probably the most memorable episodes lacked the uplifting, inspirational qualities that make for blockbuster Olympic broadcasts. Mikaela Shiffrin, an American skier who had gained three Olympic medals earlier than arriving in Beijing, stumbled disastrously in a number of occasions and went house empty-handed. Kamila Valieva, the 15-year-old Russian determine skating star, fell apart throughout her free skate whereas weathering a doping scandal. When she stepped off the ice, her coach berated her on digicam.
Geopolitical tensions additionally dogged the Olympics. China tried to wash the Video games of political overtones using bots and fake accounts. And concern in regards to the welfare of the Chinese language tennis participant Peng Shuai, who final 12 months accused a political official of sexual abuse, threatened to overshadow the Video games.
Closing Out the Video games
“The Olympics model is basically struggling. Lots of people don’t really feel that emotional connection anymore,” mentioned Tang Tang, a media professor at Kent State College who has studied the Olympics.
The Beijing Olympics lacked the type of powerhouse narrative that turned the American swimmer Michael Phelps and his eight gold medals into must-watch TV in 2008. One of many breakout stars of this 12 months’s Video games, the Chinese American skier Eileen Gu, competed for China somewhat than the USA. And gamers within the National Hockey League didn’t take part.
“Audiences watch the Olympics for the tales. They want that superhero story, that star high quality,” Professor Tang mentioned. “They don’t actually see the Olympics as a real sporting occasion, however somewhat as one thing extra private.”
In 2014, NBC Common purchased the American rights to air the Olympics by way of 2032 for $7.75 billion. However the Beijing Video games, and people in Tokyo six months earlier, have been logistically difficult. The Tokyo Olympics drew the smallest audience since NBCUniversal started masking the Summer time Video games in 1988.
In Beijing, NBC Common grappled with a 13-hour time distinction from New York, which meant that social media and information studies often delivered Olympic outcomes lengthy earlier than viewers watched a broadcast. The corporate mentioned that this 12 months’s Olympics have been its most streamed Winter Video games ever, with 4.3 billion minutes streamed throughout digital and social media.
Effectively earlier than this month, NBC Common had instructed advertisers to anticipate decrease scores for the Beijing Video games in contrast with the Pyeongchang occasion. The corporate mentioned on Monday that its protection in Beijing had topped all the things in prime-time tv aside from the N.F.L.
The largest night time for this 12 months’s Video games was Feb. 13, when 24 million individuals tuned in, lots of them most likely coming from NBC Common’s Super Bowl broadcast. The soccer sport drew 112 million viewers, or 70 p.c of the entire viewers who watched the Olympics over greater than two weeks.