The “woke Olympics” opener was a TV ratings disaster

Apparently, Americans are not so interested in the Tokyo Olympics.

Breitbart reports that the U.S. television ratings for the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics were the lowest they’ve been in over thirty years. 

The numbers

The opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics took place on Friday, July 23rd. NBC broadcasted that opening ceremony twice on Friday, once live at 6:55 am ET (Tokyo is 13 hours ahead of the U.S. east coast), and once at 7:30 pm ET. The broadcasts lasted for four hours.

Reports indicate that, across all of its platforms, NBC only drew about 17 million viewers here in the United States. This number, although not yet finalized, represents a 33 year low.

To find similar television ratings for an Olympic opening ceremony, one would have to go back to the Seoul Olympics of 1988, which had 22.7 million U.S. television viewers, or the Barcelona Olympics of 1992, which had 21.6 million U.S. television viewers.

To add further perspective, this 17 million number, for the Tokyo opener, is 37 percent lower than the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and 59 percent lower than the 2012 London Olympics. In other words, the Tokyo opener didn’t draw anywhere near the television audience of the most recent Olympics.

What’s going on?

The poor television ratings experienced at the Tokyo opener are in line with a trend that we have seen over the past year.

Some examples would be the National Football League’s (NFL) Supre Bowl, which only drew about 92 million viewers, a 15 year low, and the Oscars, which drew 10.4 million viewers, an all-time low. Many other live events, including sporting events and awards ceremonies, had similarly poor performances

The big question is what is causing this? And, there hasn’t been any study done that definitively answers this question.

So, instead, there has been a lot of speculation with different people pointing to different things. Some, for example, point to a shift away from television toward streaming services, while others have pointed to fans being turned off by the overtly political tone that has come to dominate these entertainment events.

Here, for example, is how Breitbart’s Simon Kent put it, “Empty seats, zero atmosphere, diminished team numbers, local protests, and a world distracted by coronavirus all combined to deliver just 16.7 million viewers for NBC’s four-hour long broadcast of the Tokyo Olympic Games opening ceremony on Friday.”

We’ll have to see if the television ratings pick up as the Tokyo Olympics continue.

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