Instead of telling Olympic athletes not to speak freely while competing in Beijing such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should have never put them in that position to begin with. One of the consequences may be the “lowest TV ratings in Olympic history.”
Citizen Free Press reports “NBC is facing a cataclysmic loss of audience for the 2022 Winter Olympics as viewership tanked for Friday’s Opening Ceremony, averaging just 16 million.”
The new record low is significantly worse than the previous record low which was for the 1988 Calgary Opening Ceremony at 20.1 million. It’s an entire 43 percent below the 2018 Games in South Korea with 28.3 million viewers.
It’s not just the opening ceremony that is failing in the ratings department. Thursday’s “ratings disaster that saw just 7.7 million people tune in, dramatically below same-night audiences of 2018 (16 million) and 2014 from Russia (20.02 million).”
NBC said the 16 million is a “total audience delivery” and includes all of its networks and streaming. The television-only average audience was below 14 million for the day, per the preliminary data released by the network.
Reports are being leaked out of China that their severe anti-COVID measures have made life inside its “closed-loop” a high-stress and near joyless experience for the athletes and a massive challenge for NBC.
As if enough stress weren’t on the backs of these young competitors attempting to live out their dreams, “athletes have complained about the fear of positive tests, substandard conditions in unnecessary “isolation centers” and the need to guard against China hacking into their phones and computers to mine data and steal identities.”
Not only are few people watching on television, but the “lack of fans in attendance doesn’t help either. Thursday’s ice skating competition was surreal, a performative event where the connection between competitor and crowd is paramount. Instead, with just 800 in attendance, it looked and sounded like a practice session, complete with music rattling around within the poor acoustics.”
All of this is a nightmare for NBC, which is paying the IOC $7.75 billion to broadcast the Olympics through 2032, writes Citizen Free Press. NBC is doing almost all it can but its reporters and crews are stuck in the “closed loop.”
Production value has been extremely limited as a result: “that eliminates live shots with mountains or historic buildings as backdrops as well as stories about the culture, architecture and people of China that can make the Olympics about more than just sport.”
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