NBC has suffered a huge blow to its ratings as only 16 million viewers tuned in to watch the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics opening ceremony, down from the 28.3 million viewers who tuned in during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in February 2018.
The drop in views set a record low for the network since NBCUniversal began broadcasting the games in 1988.
According to Variety, the total audience delivery, or TAD, of 16 million viewers is down 43% compared to the previous games. Noting that while comparing the usually more popular Summer Olympics to Winter Olympics is less fair, it’s worth noting that the broadcast of the Tokyo Olympic Games opening ceremony drew 17 million viewers last July, which was at the time the smallest viewership for the event in 33 years and can be attributed to the lack of fanfare surrounding the games, which occurred at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Beijing’s numbers are worse than that.
As was the case with previous broadcasts, the torch lighting ceremony aired live in the morning on NBC and its streaming service Peacock and was replayed again at primetime. As with last year’s games, the Olympics this year are happening in mostly empty arenas, devoid of spectators.
NBC’s numbers are expected to struggle as the network grapples with the challenge of bringing viewers to what some viewers have dubbed the “Genocide Olympics” on account of China’s human rights abuses against the Uyghur minority group in the Xinjiang autonomous region, with many stating their intent to boycott the proceedings.
NBCUniversal is contracted to broadcast 2,800 hours of Beijing Winter Games coverage across multiple platforms, including all of its major broadcast, streaming, and phone app properties from Feb. 2-20.
Numerous countries, including the United States, India, Australia, and Canada are holding so-called “diplomatic boycotts” of the Olympics over the human rights abuses, but no major country has had the balls to pull out their athletes, making the boycotts an exercise in virtue signaling as athletes, donning American sports brands, continue to grace Chinese stadiums for yuan like imported prostitutes at a Chinese strip club.