The weeks and months leading up to the Rio Olympics have been filled with problematic stories about the games and the the city of Rio’s ability to host them and it looks like those issues may be taking a toll on how interested Americans are in watching the events on TV.
In a recent Gallup poll, only 48% of American adults says they will watch a “great deal” or “fair amount” of the Olympics while 51% say they will watch “not much” or “none at all.”
This is troublesome for NBC’s coverage as they paid $4.4 billion for the rights to the four Summer and Winter Olympiads held 2010-2016. The Rio Olympics was supposed to be the biggest of the four as not only a summer games but also one that takes place just one hour earlier than the eastern time zone.
It is also worrisome because NBC upped the ante and dished out nearly $8 billion for the rights to broadcast the games through 2032.
To make matters worse, women have lost interest in the Olympics much more than men. Typically women are the demographic most drawn to watching the Olympics on TV, and that drives NBC’s production. However, this year, only 47% of American women plan to watch a “great deal” or “fair amount” of the Olympics compared to 63% during the London Olympics in 2012. Men are also down, but only from 53% to 49%.
It will be interesting to see if interest in the games rises once the games start and the negative stories slow down. But for now, NBC’s big money-maker looks like it is going to take a big hit in the ratings.
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