NBC’s Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony Broadcast Sees Record Low Viewers, Down 43% From Previous Games

NBC’s Beijing Olympics opening ceremony broadcast sees record low viewers, down 43% from previous Games

NBC’s Beijing Olympics opening ceremony broadcast sees record low viewers, down 43% from previous Games

NBC’s broadcast for the opening ceremony of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics saw a historic low in viewership, with just 16 million total viewers tuning in on Friday, down 43% from the previous Games.

The number, from across NBC’s multiple streaming platforms and networks, was down a significant number compared to the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang where the broadcast reached 28.3 million total viewers, according to The Wrap.

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With the 13-hour time difference, the opening ceremony was aired twice on Friday. The result was a record-low for NBC, topping the previous record of 20.1 million for the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.

Performers skate during the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at the Beijing National Stadium on February 4, 2022 in Beijing, China.

Performers skate during the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at the Beijing National Stadium on February 4, 2022 in Beijing, China.
(Photo by Ni Minzhe / CHINASPORTS / VCG via Getty Images)

According to The Wall Street Journal, Olympic viewership overall has seen a decline over the years. The Summer Games in Tokyo saw a 36% drop from the previous Summer Olympics with just 17 million US viewers.

The pandemic has certainly had an impact in the last two Olympics but the host nation’s human rights violations could be a catalyst in the recent drop in viewership.

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China has faced immense criticism for its human rights abuses against the Uyghur population in the Xinjian region. The Biden administration announced in December a diplomatic boycott of the Olympics due to China’s “ongoing genocide, crimes against humanity, and other human rights abuses.”

Flag bearers Brittany Bowe and John Shuster of Team United States carry their flag during the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at the Beijing National Stadium on February 4, 2022 in Beijing, China.

Flag bearers Brittany Bowe and John Shuster of Team United States carry their flag during the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at the Beijing National Stadium on February 4, 2022 in Beijing, China.
(Photo by Cui Nan / China News Service via Getty Images)

Several other like-minded democracies have joined the US in not sending political delegations as part of stated or unstated diplomatic boycotts of the games.

The International Olympic Committee has said it remains neutral on political issues and that the Olympics are “about and for the athletes.”

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Chinese torchbearer athletes Dinigeer Yilamujian (L) and Zhao Jiawen hold the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, at the National Stadium, known as the Bird's Nest, in Beijing, on February 4, 2022.

Chinese torchbearer athletes Dinigeer Yilamujian (L) and Zhao Jiawen hold the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, at the National Stadium, known as the Bird’s Nest, in Beijing, on February 4, 2022.
(Photo by BEN STANSALL / AFP via Getty Images)

During the opening ceremony, the Olympic flame was delivered by Dinigeer Yilamujiang, a member of the country’s Uyghur Muslim minority. The IOC responded to criticism that Yilamujiang was used as a political tactic, saying she had “every right” to participate.

Gadget Clock’ Lisa Bennatan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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