NBC draws worst Olympics ratings ever with 2022 Beijing Winter Games
The Beijing Winter Games drew the lowest ratings in the history of the Olympics since NBCUniversal began broadcasting the event decades ago.
The broadcast is widely expected to have not turned a profit for NBC, which owns the rights to to broadcast the games in the US. NBC was mum whether it lost money on the telecasting of the Beijing games.
The Winter Olympics, which aired across broadcast, cable and streaming platforms of Comcast’s NBCU, attracted an average of 11.4 million primetime viewers over its two-and-a-half week run, the company said Tuesday. That marked a 42% drop from the disastrously low-rated Pyeongchang Olympics in 2018, which had registered the lowest viewership up until that point.
“This was probably the most difficult Olympics of all time,” NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua told The Wall Street Journal. He said to make up for the meager audience, advertisers were given additional commercial time. “They were made whole throughout the entire Olympics,” Bevacqua said of advertisers.
The pandemic fueled the lackluster ratings, Bevacqua said, pointing to difficulties such as few spectators, athletes wearing masks, no family and friends in the stands and “very harsh protocols in China” related to COVID-19.
As a result, NBC kept its announcing team in its US facilities rather than in Beijing, which added to the issues, the exec said. “We had 1,600 people in Stamford[, Conn.] and 600 people in Beijing. Normally that would be flipped for us,” he added.
The Beijing Games continued the trend of sinking Olympic ratings. The Tokyo Summer Games averaged 15.5 million prime-time viewers, NBC’s lowest-rating Summer Olympics since it began broadcasting them in 1988.