The Ratings For The Tokyo Olympics Were Challenged By NBCU
NBC Universal's id is "auto-tag_nbcuniversal" data-tag. Fans of swimming and gymnastic feats would tune in to a single network to watch the Summer Olympics, and giant audiences would follow. The Olympics have made their way to CNBC, USA and NBCSN in recent years as the U.S. rightsholder has sought to monetize a $4.4 billion pact that grants it exclusive rights to show the Games in the U.S. In 2021, with audiences accustomed to watching whatever they want with a few clicks on a remote, there is no single, defined way to watch the sports spectacle.
With that expanded access comes a decline in traditional measures of watching the Games. Over the weekend, NBCU acknowledged that its Friday broadcast of the event's opening ceremonies drew an average of around 17 million viewers in the U.S., marking a decline of approximately 36% from the audience for the company's 2016 broadcast. There are two different broadcasts of the ceremonies, one in the morning that was live due to the time difference between the U.S. and Tokyo, and a more produced version that aired in prime time.
The figures include streaming activity. Due to the coronaviruses epidemic, live audiences were not allowed to take part in these ceremonies. The Games were delayed a year from their original debut.
At the same time, NBCU is seeing better activity in other parts of its Olympic efforts. The opening ceremonies of the Olympics were watched by an average of 9.1 million viewers, but the audience for Saturday's events, including broadcast and cable, was 26% higher. The opening ceremony of the Winter Games in Gangneung, South Korea, increased the audience on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app by 76%.
The company did not give audience numbers for the Olympics. The Olympics are going through the same sort of change that other big TV mainstays are going through. The day-and-date broadcasts of every kind of comedy and drama are all experiencing declines in linear viewing.
The Super Bowl, which is TV's biggest single-day audience each year, has begun to see its overall audience start to settle. The declines are not new. The Summer Games from London had an 18% decrease in linear-TV viewers compared to the Rio Games.
They threaten to undermine a flow of revenue upon which TV networks depend. NBCU expects to exceed the $1.25 billion in ad deals it secured for Rio. In years past, NBCU has taken pains to protect their ratings.
NBCU was able to meet advertiser guarantees by granting sponsors extra commercial time. The company continues to place emphasis on a tally of viewing across all of its TV networks. Rather than tout how many people saw the ads that accompany the Olympics, NBCU's ad-sales unit is playing up the connection the commercials make to those who do, issuing stats on Monday that look less at mass reach and more at the amount of attention and recall.
Mark Marshall, president of advertising and partnerships at NBCUniversal, said in a prepared statement that they know their platform will deliver for advertisers in delivery and impact. Our teams are speaking to our partners every single day to make sure we help them achieve their goals.