It seems like the 2016 Olympic Games have another problem to notch under their belt.
Amidst the turmoil of the madness and spectacle, one would think that the world would be watching this momentous event in a turbulent year; well, not exactly. Ratings for the Rio Olympics on NBC are actually significantly down from those of the London Olympics in 2012 (also on NBC), Deadline reports.
This is a continuing trend from the first, preliminary-of-sorts night. The Opening Ceremonies, which includes everything from numerous performances from Brazilians attempting to showcase their country’s many facets to the Parade of Nations to the lighting of the Olympic torch, suffered from the same bout of no-one-watched-itis. In total, the ceremonies only snatched 26 million viewers total, which considering how nationalistic the event itself is not that many Americans in a country of 300 million. The London Olympics, for instance, drew in over 40 million to see the US athletes take their first steps on the world stage.
The first night of competition did not fare too much better. Despite the fact that last night’s coverage of the games included usual-blockbuster events for American viewers like swimming (for which the US usually snatches gold) and gymnastics (featuring titans of gold-medaling aerobatics from Americans like Gabby Douglas), a mere 20.7 million people tuned in to watch. Yes, the Americans only achieved silver medals in swimming last night, unlike their usual first places, but no one had any way of knowing that before the race ended.
On the other networks that NBC is televising the games through, Bravo and MSNBC, did not see much higher scores; the two acquired 750,000 viewers and a little over a million viewers, respectively.
There is an absolute silver lining, however. The sheer lack of attention may have something to do with the medium it’s being broadcast through; in fact, on the bright side, the numbers may in fact be a misnomer. In the age of the Internet and streaming gaining power while television wanes, it appears as though more people are watching the games through the NBC website rather than flipping through the channels until they find the event they were looking for.
On the NBC live-streaming service, about 115 million people tuned in–that’s almost six times as many viewers as those who used the old-fashioned cable route. That whopper is also a 263% increase from the numbers for London’s games viewed online.
What this means is that, overall, getting people to watch the Olympics is not the problem. Getting them to watch them on the TV, where a disproportionate amount of the advertisers are, is the issue, and like many other shows and events, it’s something networks of every kind are having to contend with in the new era.
Regardless, the numbers for the Rio games on the TV are grim. Out of the last seven games over the past several decades, these games rank sixth on the list in viewership, sitting slightly above the Athens games.
Maybe Day Two will serve the old cable box a little better than the first night did. Or maybe the masses are truly crossing over from TV to the Internet in every way permanently.