The 2018 Winter Olympic games never really got any traction with television viewers. A reality that was driven home in the ratings for the final day of the games.
According to Deadline:
On its last Saturday, the often tractionless PyeongChang games hit a new low, dipping 5% from the previous rock bottom of February 23 with 8.7/16 metered market results on both NBC and NBC Sports Networks. As harsh as that is, last night’s results were up just over 1% from the final Saturday of Sochi 2014. A low for those Russian-based games in the early numbers, that February 22, 2014 primetime coverage on NBC-only went on to dribble in a weak 13.3 million viewers.
That small victory over 2014 may bring a toast or two around NBC HQ this morning but the overall reality is that the 2018 Winter Games are going to be the lowest rated ever with a drop of nearly 10% from the previous low of Sochi. Hell, Saturday to Saturday, last night was down 15% in metered market ratings from February 17, which was a low at the time.
Even as NBC has melded their numbers with NBCSN with simultaneous live primetime coverage, the lessons of a changing media landscape can’t help but bring a chill as NBC’18 to NBC’14 has often seen double-digit declines overall these games. Looking at the final Saturday of the XXII Winter Games to last night on NBC only, PyeongChang dropped 10% from Sochi’s last night of tape delayed primetime competition.
The Winter Olympics are up against cultural obstacles as well. As more and more kids stay indoors, playing on gaming systems as opposed to venturing outside, the talent pool for skiing, snowboarding, and skating, will dwindle.
The Olympics in particular, and sports in general, also face the reality of an ever-shrinking viewer attention span. A factor which makes long-form television watching, such as you see in the Olympics, an unappealing option to an increasingly restless viewing public.
Confronted by those factors, and others, NBC will need to focus on ways of re-packaging the Olympics to make it more appealing to the modern television watcher.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn