Record low BBC and NBC ratings as Winter Olympics audience dwindles

US Olympics rights holder NBC recorded an audience of 16 million for the Beijing Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony on Friday, down 43% on the PyeongChang Winter Olympics Ceremony, which drew 28.3 million in February 2018.

Beijing’s Winter Olympics Ceremony now holds the lowest record for views in the US since NBC started broadcasting in 1988.

In the UK meanwhile, the BBC’s coverage peaked at 1.3 million viewers, compared with 2.4 million for PyeongChang. Both ceremonies kicked off at midday on a Friday in February.

The China-hosted Winter Games have had a rocky time with diplomatic boycotts and muted promotion by broadcasters and sponsors.

Viewership of the Summer and Winter Olympic Games has been in decline since 2012.

NBC’s audience for the Summer Tokyo Games Opening Ceremony picked up 17 million viewers – a 37% drop on the 2016 Rio de Janeiro opener and 58% down from the London 2012 games when 40.7 million tuned in.

Meanwhile, audience numbers on the BBC peaked at 2.3 million for Tokyo for an 11am show – also vastly down on the 3.8 million who tuned in for the Rio Games in 2016 during the night.

Viewing of Games is becoming increasingly fragmented across multiple platforms with multiple distribution deals. In Europe, for example, coverage is split between Discovery-owned Eurosport and local broadcasters, making it difficult for both audiences to find coverage and trickier for analysts to track audience numbers.

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