Tokyo Olympics opening draws 16.7 mln U.S. TV viewers, a 33-year low

Tokyo Olympics opening draws 16.7 mln U.S. TV viewers, a 33-year low

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NBC’s broadcast of the Tokyo Olympic Video games opening ceremony drew 16.7 million viewers, the smallest U.S. tv viewers for the occasion previously 33 years, in accordance with preliminary knowledge from Comcast-owned NBCUniversal on Saturday.

Throughout all platforms, together with NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports activities app, 17 million folks watched the ceremony, NBCUniversal mentioned in an e mail.

The streaming viewers on these platforms grew 76% from the 2018 PyeongChang opening ceremony and 72% from the 2016 Rio opener, reflecting a change in viewing habits.

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Friday’s viewers displays a steep drop, regardless of tough comparisons with earlier opening ceremonies when viewers had fewer streaming choices.

The Tokyo opener TV viewers declined 37% from 2016, when 26.5 million folks watched the Rio de Janeiro Video games opener, and 59% from 2012, when 40.7 million folks watched the London ceremony.

It was the bottom viewers for the opening ceremony for the reason that 1988 Seoul Video games, which attracted 22.7 million TV viewers. It was additionally decrease than the 1992 Barcelona Video games, when 21.6 million folks tuned in, in accordance with Nielsen knowledge.

The Rio, London, Barcelona and Seoul numbers mirror last scores knowledge not but out there for the Tokyo Video games opener.

On account of the COVID-19 pandemic, Friday’s scaled-down opening occasion passed off with fewer than 1,000 attendees on the Olympic Stadium beneath strict social distancing guidelines.

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Main absences included former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who had wooed the video games to Tokyo, and high sponsors, because the occasion confronted sturdy opposition in COVID-fatigued Japan.

With Tokyo 13 hours forward of the U.S. East Coast, NBC for the primary time broadcast the ceremony reside within the morning, at 6:55 a.m. ET Friday. NBC’s taped, primetime broadcast started at 7:30 p.m. ET.

In its primetime protection, NBC acknowledged the pandemic and its toll whereas presenting the Olympics as a optimistic occasion.

“Absence makes the center develop fonder,” mentioned host Savannah Guthrie, co-anchor of NBC Information’ “At this time” morning present. “There’s nothing like a gap ceremony to essentially get you excited for the Olympic Video games.”

NBCUniversal has aggressively pushed its digital platforms this 12 months and views the Olympics as a significant driver of subscribers for its Peacock streaming service.

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The corporate plans to air an “unprecedented” 7,000 hours of Olympics protection throughout its a number of tv networks and Peacock. These embody among the most anticipated occasions, reminiscent of gymnastics and U.S. Males’s basketball, on the streaming platform. It should additionally stream over 5,500 hours of the Olympics on NBCOlympics.com and its sports activities app.

Not all athletes have been current on the groups’ parade throughout the opening ceremony, attributable to guidelines that require many to fly in simply earlier than their competitions and go away shortly after to restrict social contact.

The TV scores drop is a part of a pattern amongst reside TV occasions, together with awards exhibits and sports activities.

February’s Tremendous Bowl broadcast on CBS, a ViacomCBS unit, attracted a mean of about 92 million viewers, in accordance with Nielsen knowledge, the bottom since 2006. The April Oscars telecast on Walt Disney Co’s ABC broadcast community averaged 10.4 million, a report low, Nielsen mentioned. Audiences for the newest Emmys and Grammys additionally hit new lows.

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NBCUniversal, which paid $7.65 billion to increase its U.S. broadcast rights for the Olympics by 2032, is framing the video games as a “therapeutic” occasion, regardless of skepticism from many Japanese residents in regards to the knowledge of holding even a scaled-down Video games throughout a pandemic.

In June NBCUniversal mentioned it had signed over 120 advertisers for the video games, greater than another Olympics broadcast. An NBCUniversal spokesperson mentioned that month the corporate was on observe to exceed the $1.2 billion in advertisements offered for the 2016 Rio Olympics, however declined to say whether or not it might beat the $1.25 billion offered final 12 months earlier than the Tokyo Video games have been postponed.

Scores aren’t a sign of profitability. Regardless of a drop in general viewership from the 2012 London Olympics, NBC earned greater than $250 million from its Rio Olympics protection, with advert gross sales up greater than 20% from London.

In June NBCUniversal Chief Govt Jeff Shell mentioned the Tokyo Video games might be essentially the most worthwhile Olympics in NBC’s historical past. (Reporting by Helen Coster; Enhancing by Richard Chang and Leslie Adler)

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