NBC is facing a ratings disaster for the Olympics as millions fewer Americans tuned in to the Tokyo Games finales amid ongoing “woke” protests and demonstrations by American athletes.
Due to “a pandemic-weary population and backlash against woke athletes protesting the U.S. flag and national anthem,” Fox News reported Sunday, NBC has also decided to award extra commercial slots to advertisers who purchased airtime during the Games because of “underwhelming ratings” this year.
The Games in Tokyo ended Sunday and the torch officially passed ahead of the 2022 Winter Games, which are scheduled to be held in Beijing, China. Late surges in several sports led Team USA to pull out the most medals — 113 — and the most Gold, 39, with China the runner-up at 88 medals in total and 38 Gold.
According to reports, the network’s primetime Olympics coverage on July 26 only averaged some 14.7 million viewers, which was a 49 percent decline for the same night during the Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, and a full 53 percent fewer viewers than during the 2012 Olympics in London.
This year’s Games saw the lowest number of viewers since 1988.
Part of this year’s decline is due to some high-profile American athletes not making the final cut in their events.
Brian Steinberg, a senior TV editor with the trade publication Variety, wrote that the drop-off in viewership which led to so much “advertiser anxiety” wasn’t helped after Simone Biles, perhaps the best gymnast in the world today, dropped out of team competition and fan-favorite Naomi Osaka did not make it to medal rounds in tennis.
Steinberg quoted a media buyer who remarked that the viewership numbers for the Games “clearly are not what NBC, our agency, or our clients were looking for” after such an expensive ad buy.
“When you look at the numbers, it’s hard to be pleased with them,” said Andy Billings, the director of the sports communications program at the University of Alabama, in an interview with The Associated Press.
“It’s probably NBC’s worst-case scenario, but it’s probably a worst-case scenario that they would have been able to predict months ago,” he said.
Advertiser fears grew early on during the Games after it became apparent that viewers were turned off for a variety of reasons, including “woke” anti-American demonstrations from athletes like U.S. Women’s Soccer star Megan Rapinoe.
“[W]oke protests by American athletes condemning the U.S. or national anthem have done little to attract new viewers while alienating Republican spectators, according to Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute in New Jersey,” Fox News reported, adding that the pandemic continuing to linger has also had an effect.
The university published a survey last week that found one-third fewer Americans said they were even interested in watching games; 43 percent said they had little-to-no interest in viewing as compared to just 16 percent who expressed a lot of interest.
“The Olympic spirit is a bit dampened this year,” said Murray. “The delay from last year and lack of spectators have taken the edge off the typical anticipation and excitement for this event.
“But the emergence of Black Lives Matter in the sports world has also led to a backlash among some Americans,” he added.
That said, not all American athletes put down their country. While Rapinoe and her woke squad took knees and finished with a Bronze medal, basketball star Kevin Durant and his Men’s Basketball team took home Gold as he chastised a U.S. sports media figure who spoke ill of the squad to “act like you’re American.”
And wrestler Tamyra Mensah-Stock wrapped herself in the U.S. flag after becoming the first black female American in her sport to win Olympic Gold, declaring, “I love representing the U.S., I freaking love living here!”
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