Tokyo Olympics Lowest-Rated Games Ever Since NBC Acquired Rights

The delayed 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics proved to be a winner for Team USA, but not necessarily in the TV ratings competition. A day after the closing ceremony, NBCUniversal disclosed the Games averaged about 15.5 million primetime TV viewers over the course of 17-day broadcast period. The tally was 42% lower than the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics (26.7 million viewers) and 2012 London Olympics (31.1 million), and the lowest since NBC acquired the North American rights in 1988.

For NBCU, the ratings are not surprising considering the year-long delay of the 32nd Olympiad due to the pandemic, low approval among many Japanese for the quadrennial event to be held this year, and a general decline in broadcast television consumption. The media company reiterated that the games will be profitable despite the pandemic.

“When you look at the numbers in general and the impact that COVID has had on sports, we were prepared for these numbers,” Pete Bevacqua, chairman of NBC Sports, told The Wall Street Journal. “For better or worse, I really do believe the pandemic and postponement impacted these games.”

Separately, media measurement company TAD (Total Audience Delivery), reported that the ratings included streaming service Peacock, which featured the most Olympics events ever on an over-the-top video platform. When including streaming, top-rated days included Day 2 (July 25) with 20 million viewers; Day 6 (July 29) with 19.5 million, and Day 11 (July 27) with 17.4 million.

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