Data: Tokyo Summer Olympics Dominated Sports Viewers Attention

Primetime TV ratings for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics may have dropped from the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, but remained strong among heavy and moderate sports fans, according to new data from Samba TV.

With a total of 113 medals, 39 of which were gold, U.S. households were watching less for the medals and more for the sports tournaments. However, household reach began to decline after the second weekend of events, despite Saturday, Aug. 7, being the biggest day of gold wins for the United States.

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Samba found that 16.6 million U.S. households with heavy sports viewership watched both the first and second weeks of the Games on NBC, representing 77% of all heavy sports viewership households in the country. Conversely, 10.1 million light sports viewership households watched week one of the Olympics and 10.3 million watched week two, representing 18% of all light sports viewership households.

While sports fans unsurprisingly were high consumers of the Olympic games, NBC was still able to draw close to 20% of light sports viewership households to its programming in each week.

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Indeed, 78% of the U.S. households that watched the opening ceremony on NBC did not watch the closing ceremony, choosing instead to watch 2021 U.S. Open Golf Championship.

Samba looked at 28 cable sports networks during July 4 and July 17, to determine heavy and light sports viewership households. Heavy sports viewership households are classified as the top 20% by consumption duration across these 28 cable sports networks. Light sports viewership households, however, are classified as the bottom 45% by consumption duration across these cable sports networks.