In the world of TV, there's been a lot of talk about The 2016 Summer Olympics over the past several days. We've heard about winners and losers, injuries and winning moments, and even a robbery. However, despite the fact the Rio Olympics have been permeating our TVs, the news and plenty of watercooler conversations, the ratings for the Olympics in the US are lower this year than in 2012. The answer lies in the changing nature of viral sports moments and the ability for viewers to stream events live.
Tuesday's Olympic ratings reveal that 16.6 million total viewers watched the beach volleyball, gymnastics and track and field events. Meanwhile, those choosing to use the app and stream the events over at NBCOlympics.com did so in pretty large numbers, too, with 554,000 users tuning in that way. That doesn't even include the short viral videos that NBC has been posting throughout the day via social media like Facebook.
Compared to an average night of primetime hours, that 16.6 million total viewers looks incredibly good. In fact a lot of other numbers related to the Rio Olympics look even better, with the LA Times reporting the Olympics are averaging 27.8 million viewers through the first 10 nights of the Olympics. That average encompasses a lot of households, but reports indicate the numbers are actually down 17% from the Olympics ratings heights achieved by the 2012 Olympics in London.
Comparing live TV viewers to video streamers on the Internet is like comparing apples to oranges, but the Internet is where many of those Olympics fans have gone. By the end of the weekend, more than 1.86 billion minutes of Olympics viewing had occurred online, thanks to those aforementioned online platforms. Watching something live or on tape delay at the same time as other Olympics fans has become less important to some--especially to the younger generation.
Still, NBC has done well with live events over the past few years. The channel still has some big sports events, of course, but NBC also kicked off the live musical trend that Fox has now picked up on, too. Live events have been enough of a sensation at the network that some viewers who normally wouldn't have even been enticed to tune in live in order to tweet and otherwise enjoy the experience with other fans. The Olympics also provides that sort of event and it's no surprise that NBC is seeing big numbers from the Rio coverage, but considering the changing nature of TV in general, it's also no surprise the numbers are down from what we saw with London in 2012--especially considering the London Olympics have been touted as the most-watched TV event in history. It would have been hard for Rio to top that, especially since Danny Boyle wasn't involved.
Luckily, if you haven't caught even one night of the Olympics, you still have a little time. The closing ceremony doesn't happen until August 21, although we will say you missed out on a lot of awesome gymnastics events already, like a slew of swimming events and Usain Bolt's big 100m victory. Tune in during primetime on NBC, and check out what else the networks have coming to TV this fall, here.