Tokyo Olympics Viewership Way Down From 2016, But Streaming Up For NBC

The primetime ratings for the opening ceremony at the Tokyo Olympics aren’t modeling the Games’ time-honored motto. They’re not being delivered faster, and they certainly aren’t stronger or higher.

NBC said today its overall coverage of the opening night ceremonies from Tokyo drew 17 million viewers for its combined broadcast and streaming, based on preliminary figures. The company did not break out broadcast numbers separately.

While that’s enough to handily win Friday’s summer night, it’s apparently a steep drop from the 2016 opener in Rio.

That memorable gathering (remember Gisele Bündchen’s dancing?) scored 26.5 million total viewers, per Nielsen. That was down a hard 35% from the all-time audience high for the 2012 London games opener, which had 40.7 million viewers. Rio was also the lowest opening night NBC saw since the 2004 Athens games drew 25.4 million.

While there’s no doubt broadcast coverage in 2021 has been cannibalized by cable, streaming, and social media, we should also factor in the desire of most people to get out and do something after a year-long pandemic confinement.

The good news for NBC is that the streaming audience for the opening ceremony on and the NBC Sports app increased 76% from the 2018 PyeongChang Opening Ceremony and 72% from 2016 Rio opening ceremony.

NBC claimed the Friday night opener was the second-most watched standalone entertainment telecast in the last year, behind CBS’s Oprah Winfrey interview with Meghan & Harry. It also crowed that the Tokyo opener delivered the most-watched Friday night on broadcast TV since Feb. 16, 2018, the  PyeongChang Olympics on NBC.

Based on preliminary figures, full coverage of the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony posted a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of approximately 17 Million Viewers, which includes an opening ceremony-record 311,000 Average Minute Audience (AMA) via and NBC Sports app.

Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony Viewership Notes — 1 of 5

— NBC Sports PR (@NBCSportsPR) July 24, 2021

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