The Tokyo Olympics Has Cratered In Viewership and It's No Surprise Why

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

The Olympics used to be a big deal and would see people from all around the world tuning in to cheer their country’s athletes on, but here in America that enthusiasm has largely dissipated and viewership has largely disappeared.


According to Fox News, NBC’s coverage of the games brought in 14 million viewers. Still quite a lot of people, but when you compare it to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro numbers, you see how large of a cliff this viewership fell off of:

NBC’s coverage averaged just shy of 14 million viewers, down 58% from the equivalent night of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics that attracted 33 million viewers. The decline is even worse compared to the 2012 London games that averaged 39 million viewers during the equivalent night.

Declines among the key demographic of adults age 18-49 were even greater, as Tuesday’s coverage was down 67% from Rio and a staggering 74% compared to London.

Some theories as to what caused the drop-off were put forward, like Simone Biles pulling out of the games and the significant time difference causing a marked delay in the games, but the issue is that the Olympics weren’t drawing in fans from the very beginning.

What’s the issue?

Easy. It’s politics.

As Bobby Burack of Outkick wrote on Wednesday, “Half of the country isn’t proud of America. The other half dislikes the politicization of events like the Olympics. Couple the two, and we have a ratings disaster for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.”

“These viewership declines are more complex than declines in other TV programming. First, certain problems have plagued all of TV: cord-cutting, Netflix, social media, YouTube clips, and decreasing attention spans,” he added. “On top of that, there’s the political divide, which is now front and center at a world event. Anything that represents America is now controversial. The U.S. flag triggers the left, while the social stances of some athletes turn off the right. Thus, almost everyone has lost interest in the Games.”


As I wrote yesterday, politics has caused the Olympics to lose its luster and has been working to do so over the course of many years. The introduction of transgenderism and the constant inclusion of social justice, political messaging has made the Olympics another MSNBC show. Gone is the sportsmanship and patriotism of the games. Now it’s all about messaging and outrage.

Who really wants to watch that? Who wants to give that a platform?

It’s safe to assume that the Olympics will continue to decline in viewership as the problem isn’t addressed and only worsens. Soon the Olympics will become like every other event; a chance for ideologues to jam their beliefs into everyone else’s faces at unwelcome times.

It’s what happened to award shows and sporting events, and it’ll happen to the Olympics too.


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