An common of 11.4 million viewers watched the Beijing Olympics on NBC Universal platforms every night time — the smallest prime-time viewers on report for any Winter Games and effectively off the 19.8 million nightly viewers for the Pyeongchang Games in 2018.
More than two weeks of protection, beginning with the frigid opening present on Feb. 4 and ending Sunday, drew 160 million complete viewers throughout the NBC tv channel, the Peacock streaming service and different platforms, NBC Universal stated on Monday.
Dramatic story strains proliferated throughout NBC Universal’s 2,800 hours of protection, however few catered to an viewers that will have craved escapist forays and tales of triumph. Pandemic restrictions compelled the competitions to happen in a bubble. The outcome: principally empty stands, and NBC announcers comparable to Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski having to ship their dispatches from a compound in Connecticut.
Several of the most memorable episodes lacked the uplifting, inspirational qualities that make for blockbuster Olympic broadcasts. Mikaela Shiffrin, an American skier who had received three Olympic medals earlier than arriving in Beijing, stumbled disastrously in a number of occasions and went residence empty-handed. Kamila Valieva, the 15-year-old Russian determine skating star, fell aside throughout her free skate whereas weathering a doping scandal. When she stepped off the ice, her coach berated her on digital camera.
Geopolitical tensions additionally dogged the Olympics. China tried to wash the Games of political overtones utilizing bots and pretend accounts. And concern about the welfare of the Chinese tennis participant Peng Shuai, who final yr accused a political official of sexual abuse, threatened to overshadow the Games.
Closing Out the Games
“The Olympics brand is really struggling. A lot of people don’t feel that emotional connection anymore,” stated Tang Tang, a media professor at Kent State University who has studied the Olympics.
The Beijing Olympics lacked the sort of powerhouse narrative that turned the American swimmer Michael Phelps and his eight gold medals into must-watch TV in 2008. One of the breakout stars of this yr’s Games, the Chinese American skier Eileen Gu, competed for China somewhat than the United States. And gamers in the National Hockey League didn’t take part.
“Audiences watch the Olympics for the stories. They need that superhero story, that star quality,” Professor Tang stated. “They don’t really see the Olympics as a true sporting event, but rather as something more personal.”
In 2014, NBC Universal purchased the American rights to air the Olympics by way of 2032 for $7.75 billion. But the Beijing Games, and people in Tokyo six months earlier, had been logistically difficult. The Tokyo Olympics drew the smallest viewers since NBCUniversal started masking the Summer Games in 1988.
In Beijing, NBC Universal grappled with a 13-hour time distinction from New York, which meant that social media and information reviews normally delivered Olympic outcomes lengthy earlier than viewers watched a broadcast. The firm stated that this yr’s Olympics had been its most streamed Winter Games ever, with 4.3 billion minutes streamed throughout digital and social media.
Well earlier than this month, NBC Universal had informed advertisers to count on decrease scores for the Beijing Games in contrast with the Pyeongchang occasion. The firm stated on Monday that its protection in Beijing had topped every thing in prime-time tv apart from the N.F.L.
The greatest night time for this yr’s Games was Feb. 13, when 24 million folks tuned in, many of them in all probability coming from NBC Universal’s Super Bowl broadcast. The soccer sport drew 112 million viewers, or 70 p.c of the complete viewers who watched the Olympics over greater than two weeks.