UPDATED, 2:11 PM: The athletes and delegations are heading home from the XXIII Winter Olympics and the flame from PyeongChang has been passed on to Beijing 2022, and it probably wasn’t a moment too soon for NBC.
The 19.8 million on average that watched the Games on average each night on NBC, NBCSN and digital platforms is the worst any Olympics has ever done. That’s with all NBC’s talk of total audience delivery and the rising tide of streaming.
Pulling in 14.8 million viewers for last night’s tape-delayed and K-Pop-dominated Closing Ceremony in primetime, the end of South Korea-set Games are the least watched of the modern Olympics age. Slipping 2% from the closer of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and up against The Walking Dead, last night’s finale was the least watched Olympics — winter or summer — in more than 25 years.
On a larger timeline, the PyeongChang Closing Ceremony was the second least viewed of all time next to the 12.9 million sets of eyeballs that watched the 1976 Winter Games in Innsbruck, Austria.
Only on NBC, last night’s Closing Ceremony was also the third least watched primetime window of the PyeongChang Games. Similar to the metered market results of earlier today (see below), only the February 23 and February 24 coverage fared worse with 14.0 million and 13.5 million watching, respectively, during the second Friday and Saturday of competition.
Over its entire run of more than two weeks ago, PyeongChang is down 8% from the previous overall low of the 2014 Sochi Games. This year’s 106-event competition also declined 2% from the tepid Torino Olympics in 2006. Both those Games were shown only on NBC, as were the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games (PyeongChang ratings dropped a hard 19% compared with Vancouver).
NBC said streaming of live coverage of the 2018 Games saw an 11% lift. If one just looks at the NBC primetime ratings, PyeongChang was down just over 16% from 2014. (It should be noted that Sochi lacked overall simultaneous live streaming and the inclusion of NBCSN in the primetime market.)
Of course, as they have throughout the Games, NBC is putting a shiny spin on things.
“At a time when there is more entertainment than ever for consumption, the Olympics offered an unmatched communal experience,” said Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBC Broadcasting and Sports in a release announcing the final numbers. “We look forward to Tokyo and beyond,” he added of the 2020 Summer Games.
PREVIOUSLY, 7;27 AM: In true Olympics fashion, the first in a trio of Asia-based Games ended last night on NBC in joyous asides by the athletes, a lot of K-Pop, and a dance party from a Dutch DJ. After a series of ratings lows and facing the heartbreaking Season 8 return of The Walking Dead on cable, the often-struggling XXIII Winter Games also concluded on a bit of a small uptick.
With a 10.0/17 in metered market results, the EXO- and CL-fueled primetime Closing Ceremony hosted by Tara Lipinski, Johnny Weir and Terry Gannon rose 6% from the also tape-delayed Closing Ceremony of Sochi 2014.
When everything was tallied, Sunday’s Closing Ceremony attracted a not so grand total of 15.1 million viewers. True, it was up from the all-time Winter Olympics low of 12.9 million that the hastily organized Innsbruck delivered in 1976. However, since the Summer Olympics and the Winter Olympics last were last held in the same year in 1992, the Sochi ender has proven the least watched of the modern era and were the least-watched ratings-wise in any era.
Right now, with about 20 million viewers nightly from NBC, NBC Sports Network and digital platforms, the 106-event PyeongChang Games is looking to be on track to be the least-watched Olympics ever. If 2014 was any indication, last night’s dance-bouncing Closing Ceremony (attended by and Ivanka Trump) could end up losing out to TWD among the adults 18-49 demographic too. We’ll see when the final numbers come in.
As it is, the metered markets numbers for the final Sunday of the XXIII Winter Games is the third-lowest result of the South Korean-set Olympics overall. Only the coverage of competition February 23 and February 24 did worst in what was clearly a Games of waning interest, and no NHL players in the often well-watched Men’s Hockey battles.
Like Sochi and unlike Vancouver 2010, even with the uptick there was no final big event before the Closing Ceremony to light a ratings match. Which is why, compared with the hockey-fueled ender of eight years ago, last night’s Closing Ceremony was down 30% in the early numbers.
Looking Sunday-to-Sunday and up against the Opening Ceremony, last night declined just more than 15% from the results of February 18, and 41% from the February 9 shindig in the same Olympic stadium.
Getting that post-Closing Ceremony slot of 10:30 PM ET, the second episode of NBC’s comedy A.P. Bio got a 4.3 in metered market results. While up a not altogether surprising 87% in the early results from the February 1 preview of the series from Seth Meyers and Lorne Michaels, last night’s Bio was down 34% from the Growing Up Fisher preview that followed the Sochi Closing Ceremony on February 23, 2014. However, it should be noted that about six minutes of the 2014 Closing Ceremony spilled over into the start of that JK Simmons-starrer, juicing the numbers a bit for sure.
The Olympics and A.P. Bio wasn’t the only thing on TV last night as Big Brother: Celebrity Edition (1.4/5) wrapped up its first season, The Bachelor (1.1/4) aired its annual “Women Tell All” edition and Shark Tank (0.8/3) had its Season 9 ender. The entrepreneurial reality show was up a tenth from last week and down a tenth from the final numbers of its last finale of May 12, 2017. The Big Brother spinoff ender matched its second best demo rating of its run and was up two tenths from its February 18 show.
As for A.P.Bio (1.1/5), the post-Olympics second episode was up three tenths in the fast affiliates from its preview of earlier this month.
With all almost said and done, we’ll update with final Olympics numbers when we have them. And we’ll see you in Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022.
By the way: Last night’s Closing Ceremony peaked with a 10.7/18 in the 8:45-9 PM ET slot as the parade of nations kicked off.