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‘NBC’s Worst-Case Scenario’: Olympics Ratings Crash As Americans Snub Games
TOPSHOT - Second-placed USA's Raven Saunders gestures on the podium with her silver medal after competing the women's shot put event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on August 1, 2021. (Photo by Ina FASSBENDER / AFP) (Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images)

NBC’s ratings for the this year’s Olympic games in Tokyo crashed from what they were five years ago in Rio de Janeiro.

The network is giving advertisers extra commercials to make up for the low viewership. On many days throughout the 17-day spectacle, viewership of the games clocked in at roughly half of what it was for the games in 2016, according to The Associated Press.

“When you look at the numbers, it’s hard to be pleased with them,” University of Alabama sports communications program director Andy Billings told the AP. “It’s probably NBC’s worst-case scenario, but it’s probably a worst-case scenario that they would have been able to predict months ago.”

Fox News reported some of the Olympic’s disappointing numbers: “NBC’s primetime coverage of the Tokyo Olympics on July 26 averaged 14.7 million viewers — for a 49% drop compared to the equivalent night from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games and 53% less than the 2012 London Olympics. The opening ceremonies saw their lowest viewership since 1988.”

Americans’ excitement for the Olympics has flagged along with other sports, and some experts are blaming an increase on athlete activism for the lack of interest in sporting events.

“Americans approached the Games with a collective shrug. Thirty-six percent of those polled in late July by Monmouth University in New Jersey said they had less interest in the Olympics than usual, and 3% had more interest,” the AP reported.

Several U.S. athletes sought to use their platforms as Olympic athletes to push activist messages. Shot putter Raven Saunders won a silver medal at the games and used her time on the podium to protest in support of the oppressed “all over the world” by crossing her arms over her head in an “X” during the medal ceremony.

U.S. Olympic officials came to the athlete’s defense, claiming she did not violate rules against protesting on the podium. The International Olympic Committee launched a review of Saunders’ protest but put the probe on hold after Saunders revealed the death of her mother last week.

U.S. hammer thrower Gwen Berry, who stirred up controversy protesting the U.S. national anthem at the Olympic trials, pledged to protest again should she medal at the Olympics. As The Daily Wire reported:

Although Berry is not expected to make it to the medal podium — she would have to defeat not only her American teammate, Brooke Anderson, but world-leading hammer throwers from China and Poland — she said, in a post-qualifier interview Saturday, that she intends to make a political statement if she does.

“I feel like I’ve earned the right to wear this uniform,” Berry said first, addressing critics who claimed she should be replaced by a more patriotic athlete, or that she could forgo her position on Team USA if competing under the American flag was a problem. As The Daily Wire previously reported, some lawmakers had floated the idea of booting Berry from the team if she continued to denigrate the United States.

“I’ll represent the oppressed people,” Berry added. “That’s been my message for the last three years.”

Berry failed to medal in Tokyo and lost the opportunity to protest on the international stage.

Related: Is Anyone Watching? Olympics TV Viewers Drop To 33-Year Low

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