NBC Gets Lowest Ratings Ever from 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics
NBC announced Tuesday that the company received its lowest Olympics ratings ever with an average primetime viewership of 11.4 million during the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.
Across all NBC platforms, the company drew an audience of 160 million Americans for the two-and-a-half week Games. The company saw its largest viewership for the events directly after the conclusion of the Super Bowl.
The simple answer for NBC’s struggles is the time zone difference separating the United States and China. Beijing’s hosting of the Games was always going to be suboptimal for American viewership – something the company would’ve known before hosting. The ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to primetimes American sport competition in the NFL, NBA, college basketball and more, likely led to the decrease in viewership.
Another problem was the lack of household names at these Games. The Winter Olympics has always provided a platform for more niche sports than the mainstream international events of soccer, basketball and track and field the Summer Games offer. Although Shaun White was appearing in his final Olympics, the lack of star power – impacted heavily by players in the NHL not participating – saw Americans’ attraction to the Games decrease, according to Tang Tang, a media professor at Kent State who studies the Olympics.
“The Olympics brand is really struggling. A lot of people don’t feel that emotional connection anymore,” Tang told the New York Times. “Audiences watch the Olympics for the stories. They need that superhero story, that star quality. They don’t really see the Olympics as a true sporting event, but rather as something more personal.”VIA The New York Times
Additionally, NBC’s desire to host games across all of its platforms, including Peacock – its subscription based streaming platform – presumably had an impact on viewership, with some Americans refusing to pay the additional $9.99 fee to watch events. The network ran into similar problems with the Summer Olympics in July and August 2021, as complaints regarding the network’s stubbornness to host prominent events on Peacock, while also refusing to have a consistent schedule, frustrated viewers.
NBC will look for its ratings to rebound with the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris – which will at the very least provide some more optimal showtimes for American viewers. The company has U.S. broadcasting rights to the Olympics through 2032, paying on average $1.3 billion for each Games.
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