The 2022 Winter Olympics opening ceremony drew in record-low viewership, as just under 16 million people watched Friday across NBCUniversal’s linear TV channels, Peacock and other media.
That total audience delivery is down 43% overall from the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, which saw an audience of nearly 28 million during its primetime opening ceremony broadcast.
Friday’s spectacle in Beijing also fell below last year’s opening viewership levels in Tokyo, though not by much. The most recent Summer Olympics in 2021, which were postponed a year from their original dates due to COVID-19, drew a cross-platform audience of about 17 million, significantly missing advertisers’ expectations.
NBC Sports chairman Pete Bevacqua said the start of this year's Olympics was "in line with the expectations of our advertising partners."
While the Olympics’ initial coverage on linear TV was down sharply—hardly a surprise, especially given pandemic-era ratings declines that have hit everything from the Super Bowl to the Oscars—the opening ceremony did hand NBCU’s Peacock streaming service its best-ever weekday viewership, the company said.