As Olympics ratings crater, NBC talks Beijing challenges and hopes for Paris and beyond

Beijing Olympics
By Richard Deitsch Feb 11, 2022 69
This is not Albertville, Lillehammer or Vancouver. No features of happy-go-lucky fans enjoying an exotic locale in a snowy wonderland. You want winter romance? Sorry, there’s nothing remotely romantic about the Beijing Games.

NBC was not dealt a good hand for a broadcaster heading into these Olympics, and the viewership has unsurprisingly revealed that in a big way. Those headwinds included an American public that disapproves of the politics and human rights abuses in China; a global pandemic continuing to rage; a lack of household names heading into Beijing compared to other Olympics; a sporting culture preoccupied with the NFL; an Asia-based games with not-ideal time windows; Olympic fatigue given the Tokyo Games wrapped up just six months ago; a lack of spectators at venues, including family and friends of the competitors; and the feckless IOC aiding the propaganda of the Chinese regarding tennis player Peng Shuai, among other factors. The city of Beijing is restricted to Olympic journalists and competitors, so we as viewers get no human interest stories from the country.

So, we will soon hit the midway point of Beijing Olympics, and what was true for the opening ceremony remains true as of this writing:

The Beijing Olympics are on pace to be the least-watched Olympics on record.

NBC suffered significant viewership declines for each of the first four nights of the Beijing Games — including an opening ceremony that drew 13.84 million viewers on NBC for the combined airing of the live morning and taped prime-time replay.