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How will the covid affect the Olympics and the broadcast of NBC?

2021-07-25T03:05:18.280Z

These Olympic Games could be the ones with the smallest audience in history, from the traditional sense, due to the enormous range of media where spectators can follow the competitions. | Sports | CNN



This is how the Olympic Games open 1:22

(CNN Business) -

The Summer Olympics, one of the most-watched events in the world, officially kicked off in Tokyo this weekend.

After a year-long delay due to the pandemic, NBC expects pent-up demand to drive sports fans to their televisions, laptops and phones to tune in.

But the traditional audience for this year's games faces a number of challenges that could lead the Tokyo Olympics to an audience gap.

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"It will probably be the lowest-rated Summer Olympics of all time," says Patrick Crakes, a former Fox Sports executive turned media consultant.

"They cannot avoid the increasing fragmentation of the media that makes everyone spend more time with all kinds of content."

The good news is that NBC doesn't need to rely solely on antiquated television ratings to make money from the Olympics.

Streaming and digital platforms offer viewers more ways to watch the Olympics than ever before: live events, recaps, interviews, stories and other shareable clips.

So these Olympics could see their audience drop to an all-time low in the traditional television sense, yet reach more viewers than ever before.

"I think its reach across all platforms is greater than any previous Olympic competition," says Crakes.

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Bad news: TV audience ratings drop

Will the audience ratings for the Olympics drop?

That's the big question for NBC.

The decline in television audiences is not new: viewers for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games fell by roughly 18% compared to London 2012. But the proliferation of TV shows, movies and other content across multiple platforms has noticeably accelerated since then.

"All linear television is down," says Jay Rosenstein, former vice president of programming for CBS Sports, who expects viewership ratings for the Olympics to drop again.

The world of television is very different from that of five years ago.

Viewers now have multiple viewing options, from social media to streaming services.

Just think of the number of streaming services that have been launched in just the last year.

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NBC wants to have excellent viewership ratings, because if the numbers drop too low, it could force the network to compensate advertisers for a lower-than-expected audience with free ads later on.

(This is known as "make-goods" in the television business).

With viewership for other shows (such as awards shows) falling dramatically, sports are now even more important to networks and advertisers.

Bad news: covid

The other unique problem facing these Olympics, of course, is that they are being held in the midst of a pandemic.

The games have already had to face a decision on whether to even hold and news that a growing number of athletes have tested positive for the virus.

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But from a television point of view, the biggest problem is that the games have no viewers.

Bob Costas, the legendary sports host who hosted 11 Olympics, told CNN earlier this month that the absence of fans is "a hell of a challenge."

"There is no substitute for the fans," Rosenstein said.

"Think about the swimming, the screams that come when it comes to hundredths of a second to touch and how loud it can get and how excited it gets you at home. Fans definitely matter."

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The NBA Finals, for example, were down compared to two years ago, but largely recovered from last year, which was held in a bubble with no fans.

Good news: NBC knows what it's doing

That does not mean that the Olympics cannot be successful.

"What NBC has to do, and what it does so well, is weave a tapestry in prime time where you can experience the lives of these athletes and see their performances and identify with their country or with themselves." Rosenstein said.

NBC has said it plans to offer 7,000 hours of coverage of the Olympics on television, cable and streaming.

The Olympics is as much a news event as it is a sporting event, so how NBC balances the history of the competition and the history of the health crisis will likely matter to viewers as well.

"If NBC doesn't pay enough attention to covid, it will appear to be denying reality," Lee Igel, a clinical professor at New York University's Tisch Institute for Global Sport, told CNN Business.

"However, if covid is introduced too much into the debate, it could alienate viewers who are tired of the pandemic and want to watch the Olympics for their glory. We will have to be attentive to the way in which the broadcast is carried out. balance that out. "

Good news: Peacock

NBC may also use the event as a two-week ad for its streaming service, Peacock.

In fact, the original plan for 2020 was for Comcast's NBCUniversal to host Peacock last summer in conjunction with the Olympics.

The pandemic put those plans on hold, so now Peacock, who is vital to the company's growth, has his moment to shine.

"It's a huge piece for people who want to experience it or try it or see it," Rosenstein said.

Peacock offers live content and games such as men's and women's gymnastics and men's and women's athletics.

However, it remains to be seen if the Olympics will get people to subscribe to Peacock.

Good news: sports drive audiences

How will the pandemic affect the Olympics and NBC broadcasting?

Even if viewership figures drop for the Olympics, viewership ratings will still be higher than almost anything else on television this summer, because live sports often dominate viewership.

So yeah, NBC wants game ratings to be very high and has pledged billions of dollars to do so over the next decade, but if it doesn't succeed, it's not necessarily the end of the world.

"The Olympics are the Olympics," Rosenstein said.

"They are one of the most popular events in the world, and their level of interest will continue to be important, one way or another."

Olympic Games audience

Source: cnnespanol

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