The lackluster ratings that greeted this year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing have reached their somewhat predictable nadir, as Deadline reports that the closing ceremony for the 2022 Games logged the lowest number the event has pulled in recent memory for NBC: Just 7 million viewers, down from 14.8 million who watched the ceremony broadcast from South Korea in 2018.
As we’ve previously reported, there are a whole bunch of different reasons that these particular Games have fared so poorly, besides the American viewing public’s general distaste for the Norwegian national anthem. (Norway pretty handily topped the medal count this year, bringing home the gold in 16 events.)
These include the United States’ ongoing diplomatic tensions with China, it’s even tenser diplomatic tensions with Russia (which came in second, by the by), the disadvantage on primetime coverage imposed by the Games’ Chinese time zone, and that good old catch-all explanation for any drop-off in enthusiasm in 2022: COVID fatigue.
Reports of low ratings have dogged the Winter Games throughout their run; while the Olympics have still dominated their timeslot, they’ve failed to be the irresistible advertising juggernaut they’ve been in recent years. (NBC went so far as to try to lower expectations for ad sales on its coverage before the Games even began, not issuing many of the usual guarantees it uses to lure advertisers in for this global celebration of sports and the Coca-Cola brand.)
One caveat here, though, as Deadline notes: The viewing numbers being reported for the closing ceremony so far only reflect live viewing. One of the ways NBC has tried to make lemonade out of this particular pan-global lemon has been by using it to steer users toward coverage on its Peacock streaming service and other online apps; while those numbers definitely aren’t going to spackle the gap between PyeongChang and Beijing, they’ll still be something the network can point to as a win when the dust has cleared.