US broadcaster NBC said on Monday its Olympics coverage garnered strong ratings on television and streaming despite declines from viewership in prior years.
The NBCUniversal unit said the average television audience for the Tokyo games was 15.1 million. The figure was below that of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics and the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The media group said the Tokyo event was “the most streamed Olympics ever” with some six billion streaming minutes and 2.9 billion impressions on NBC’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
An estimated 150 million Americans watched NBC’s closing ceremony presentation, according to the company’s citing of ratings.
“There is nothing more powerful in media than the 17 straight days of Olympics dominance,” said Pete Bevacqua, chairman of NBC Sports.
“The pandemic fundamentally altered virtually every aspect of these Games, but our team pivoted, and reimagined, in the midst of showcasing history-making performances across 41 sports.
“Once again, we have seen the unparalleled power that these Games have on media and our culture.”
The website Sports Media Watch meanwhile said viewership as of last week was down 42 percent from comparable days of the Rio Olympics five years ago and among the least-watched at any Olympics.
Poynter media columnist Tom Jones said the figures were expected to show a decline of as many as 10 million US viewers compared with Rio.
“Several factors may have influenced the numbers, including a half-day’s time difference between Tokyo and the United States,” Jones said.
“There’s also just a general somber vibe because of Covid-19 and the lack of fans.”
Jones said viewers were drawn to “important stories, such as American gymnast Simone Biles bringing more attention to the mental wellness of athletes by withdrawing from several events.”
NBC said it delivered some 120 billion minutes of content over its broadcast, cable and digital platforms including its Peacock streaming service.