The Columbus Dispatch

NBC draws record-low TV ratings for Olympics

- Scooby Axson

The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics set record low ratings, drawing the smallest television audience in Games history. Viewership was down 42% from the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchan­g, the previous low.

An average of 11.4 million people tuned into the primetime coverage of the Beijing Games, according to NBC, down from 19.8 million on average that watched in 2018, according to NBC. The Tokyo Summer Games that were held July 23 through Aug. 8 in 2021 averaged 15.1 million TV viewers in primetime.

NBC said it drew 160 million total viewers across its various platforms, including streaming service Peacock, during the two weeks of competitio­n from Feb. 4-20.

The network did receive a boost after 99 million people on average watched Super Bowl 56 on NBC on Feb. 13, and it parlayed that into 24 million

watching the Olympics telecast that immediatel­y aired after the game, according to NBC.

The low ratings could be attributed to several factors: Strained relations between the United States and China due to economic and human rights issues, another Olympics held during the COVID-19 pandemic, the time zone difference (Beijing is 13 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time) and the lack of compelling stories.

NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua acknowledg­ed the struggles Feb. 10 when discussing ratings.

“Thinking about all the preparatio­n that has gone into these games, to have had two Olympics in six months with the necessary COVID protocols, everything to bring these games to life during a global pandemic; it has been a difficult environmen­t to pull these games off,” Bevacqua said. “There is no way around that.”

Nbcunivers­al paid $7.75 billion for the rights to broadcast the Olympics through 2032. The next games are set for Paris in the summer of 2024.

 ?? ROBERT DEUTSCH/USA TODAY SPORTS ?? Nathan Chen set a world record with his stellar short program at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
ROBERT DEUTSCH/USA TODAY SPORTS Nathan Chen set a world record with his stellar short program at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

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