An NBC executive is using linguistic gymnastics in an attempt to explain dismal (and declining) viewership ratings for the Winter Olympic Games in the Chinese Communist city of Beijing.
Fox News reported that the network’s executives say they’re not concerned about the lower television viewership and are instead focused more on streaming services:
The Hollywood Reporter notes that the first portion of the Winter Olympics have brought significantly reduced viewership compared to the 2018 Olympic Games, which were held in PyeongChang, South Korea.
NBC Sports chairman Pete Bevacqua said that the ratings for the Winter Olympic games are “difficult,” but said that they are about what he expected.
“For us, it’s been difficult. There’s no way around this,” Bevacqua told The Hollywood Reporter. “The fact that we’ve been able to bring these Games to life during a pandemic with only a six-month window between the two [Olympics], the ratings are — of course, we always want to have the ratings better — but the ratings for these Games, as I said, are about where we thought they’d be.”
He went on to claim that a decrease in spectators — China’s strict COVID-19 policies are insane to many — very often leads to a decline in TV and streaming viewership, which is what is happening with the current Winter Games.
“It’s no secret that athletes in masks, venues without spectators, so much of the passion and excitement, those great moments of Olympic athletes hugging their family and friends and spouses and partners, so much of that magic is just out of necessity not present,” Bevacqua said. “Look at the difference in NFL ratings in ’21 compared to ’20. I think one of the main differences is because in ’20, we didn’t have the passionate NFL fan base in those stadiums adding to the atmosphere. We did our best out of necessity. But this year, those fans were back and the ratings showed that.”
But all said, the network is now focusing on the next Olympic Games, when the Summer Olympics will be hosted in Paris, adding that he hopes by then the pandemic will be “well beyond us.”
However, NBC now has a focus on the next Olympic Games, when Paris hosts the Summer Olympics in 2024, stating that he hopes the pandemic will be “well beyond us” by then.
“Why I’m energized is I think about where we’re going, think about Paris and Italy and LA. And, knock on wood, not just for the Olympics, but for the sake of all of us, hopefully, this pandemic is well beyond us by then, we have those spectators back in these venues bursting at the seams, we have those passionate family and friends and athletes without masks hugging each other and celebrating these Olympic achievements,” Bevacqua said. “We have our eye on that normalized future coming back into focus as we work our way through this pandemic, so that’s why we’re hopeful.”
He went on to claim that improvements have been made to their streaming service, Peacock, and said that it has received good reception from viewers.
“I think we’ve made real drastic improvements on what we’ve done with Peacock,” Bevacqua said. “When you grade our performance in Tokyo versus Beijing, and when you see the reception that Peacock has received from the Peacock subscribers and the Peacock customers, the fact that you can go there for all things Olympic has been a nice supplement to all of our prime coverage, our prime plus and our prime west coverage.”
It’s more like that COVID, in addition to China’s authoritarianism, and the fact that millions of Americans are very likely upset that Beijing has gotten away with infecting the planet with a deadly virus and hasn’t had to pay much of a global price for it, are really to blame for the poor viewership.
But you’ll never hear an NBC executive admit that.