Turned Off, Tuned Out: Olympic Television Viewership Abysmal

Jay Maxson | July 26, 2021
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Friday’s opening ceremonies for the Tokyo Olympics provided more painful truth for Big Sports. The U.S. television audience for the event was the lowest it’s been in the 21st century, further indicating how badly Americans are rejecting woke sports.

Coming on the heels of the shrunken TV audiences for the NBA Finals and Major League Baseball All-Star Game, the Olympic opening ceremonies drew just 16.7 million viewers. NBCUniversal reports this is the worst audience for the event in 33 years, down a whopping 36 percent since the 2016 Rio Games and 59 percent from the 2012 London Games. This disaster lowered the previous low-water mark of 21.6 million viewers for the 1992 Barcelona Games.

Making lemonade out of lemons, The Hill bragged that this ratings debacle was “the second-most watched standalone primetime entertainment telecast since the pandemic began in March, excluding post-Superbowl coverage.” NBC ignored the larger story by focusing on its increased streaming audience.

NBC is airing 7,000 hours of Olympics coverage via multiple television networks and its streaming service. The question is: will many people be watching?

None of this is surprising. A few days ago, Zeta Global uncovered some alarming numbers demonstrating just how much contempt Americans have for big-time sports right now.:

“More than 60 percent of Americans were unable to express excitement or interest in the summer games, and at least 45 percent of Americans confirmed they are NOT looking forward to the games in any capacity.”

As a result, Zeta Global predicted these Olympics would attract the smallest TV audiences of the century.

A second research groupIpsos, announced that 68 percent of Americans are opposed to athlete protests. Including kneeling and wearing social justice slogans. They’ve seen more of this aberrant behavior than they want to see, and Olympic athletes have already protested and demanded the right to protest without restrictions during the Tokyo Games.

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Additionally, Ipsos found that respondents indicated they feel proud of their country when U.S. Olympians do well. However, that's not happening now. Just 29 percent of Republicans and 39 percent of Democrats are even interested in watching these Olympics. 

Which brings us to the USA’s NBA basketball mess. Team super woke USA suffered an embarrassing loss to heavy underdog France Sunday. But, hey, at least the NBA’s Social Justice Coalition is working hard toward policing reforms (as indicated by a PSA during the recent NBA Finals. Thank goodness for that! Not.

The Tokyo Olympics were delayed for a year because of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. During those 12 months, social justice warriors in sports have only given fans fewer reasons to watch when the Games finally arrived this summer.

For many fans, they’d seen enough outrageous behavior to determine they wouldn’t tolerate any more of the same. Last Tuesday’s kneeling by the U.S. and other national soccer teams may have just reinforced fans’ decisions for tuning out of the opening ceremonies.

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