Ratings for NBC’s primetime coverage of the Tokyo Olympic Games “has continued to spiral downward” according to Fox News, dropping nearly 50% from the network’s coverage of the 2016 Rio Games. Olympic viewership is down nearly 40% overall across the entire NBC family of networks sharing broadcast duties.
Analysts suggest that the “get woke, go broke” effect may be partly to blame, but the drop is so significant that the network is now struggling with “advertiser anxiety,” allaying corporate fears that the millions spent on commercials and sponsorships during Olympic coverage may not have been worth it.
Monday’s primetime NBC telecast “shed 53 percent of viewers from coverage of the first weeknight primetime during the 2012 London Olympics and declines were even larger among the advertiser-coveted demographic of adults aged 18-49.”
NBC had hoped that ratings would pick up after the Olympic Opening Ceremony, which saw a 33% drop in viewership from 2016. Unfortunately, a turnaround has not materialized. Instead, the network is “averaging 14.7 million viewers” in primetime, representing an overall “49 percent drop compared to the equivalent night from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro games.”
“NBC averaged 12.6 million viewers on Saturday night, a 39 percent drop compared to the first Saturday of the 2016 Olympics and a 56 percent drop compared to the 2012 London games,” Fox News added. “Now that a weeknight has also shed significant viewership from recent Olympics, too, NBC could start to panic if things don’t pick up in a hurry.”
The network had, according to Variety, counted on major stars like Team USA gymnast Simone Biles to help spur nightly ratings, but Biles pulled out of the women’s team event on Tuesday, citing issues, and Team USA now says she is not expected to compete in the women’s all-around competition on Thursday, leaving little in NBC’s primetime lineup to draw viewers — and that’s leaving advertisers very nervous.
“Traditional TV viewing for the Summer Games has declined noticeably, and, a decision by popular gymnast Simone Biles to take herself out of the team competition early Tuesday has spurred advertiser anxiety, according to executives familiar with negotiations between NBC and sponsors,” Variety reported Wednesday. One media buying executive told the outlet that the lackluster ratings are “clearly are not what NBC, our agency or our clients were looking for,” and advertisers are demanding “make goods,” or free advertising elsewhere to make up for the lost audience.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, anticipation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was at a comparative low, with many viewers citing a newfound political focus among the Team USA athletes as part of the reason they lacked any excitement for the Games. Republicans, particularly were unenthusiastic, likely because many of the athletes planned to protest for progressive causes.
The message is getting to Team USA’s athletes. After the U.S. Women’s soccer team took a knee in protest of racial inequality in its Olympic opener against Sweden, the other U.S. squad expected to stage a political demonstration — the women’s basketball team — subtly announced that they had no plans to push a social justice message during their own Olympic appearances.
It could be too little too late, however, to save NBC’s viewership.