The 2022 Winter Olympics, hosted in Beijing, China, broke the record for the lowest viewership brought in by the Olympics, down over 40% from 2018. The average viewership this year was around 11-12 million. There are a few reasons for this.
Without taking any other factors into account; viewership should naturally be expected to fall, as cable broadcasts have been declining in viewers for years now. We are in the midst of an exodus from cable television to online video sharing and streaming, and audiences are split between the two, as this was the first time the Olympics were able to be streamed through Peacock, which has 9 million active subscribers.
The pandemic also made things a little complicated, to say the least. This was the second Olympics in a row where ticket sales were closed to the public. Spectators in the crowds were extremely limited, and many athletes were forced to withdraw due to positive covid tests.
The 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics ended just six months ago, so some may think that viewer fatigue could be a problem.
There is no singular reason as to why viewership is down. The reality is that a mixture of all these individual factors result in a net negative for the overall product of the Olympics.
Despite the diminishing public interest in the games, the Olympics still remain the ultimate stage for some of the world’s best athletes. Many of them are accomplishing remarkable feats and setting new records.
Norway dominated the Winter Olympics this year. They brought home 37 medals in total, 16 of them being gold. They also broke the world record for most gold medals in a Winter Olympics, which they also previously held.
Germany had the second most medals at 27, with 12 golds. China, the USA, and Sweden rounded out the top 5. The full results can be found here.
After becoming the youngest woman to win gold in the snowboarding halfpipe in 2018, USA’s Chloe Kim earned her second consecutive gold medal in the event.
USA figure skater Nathan Chen set a new world record in the men’s short program with a score of 113.97.
German speed skater Claudia Pechstein became the oldest woman to ever compete in the Winter Olympics, while extending her record of being the only woman to compete in eight Olympic Games.
Even though viewership may suggest otherwise, the Olympic tradition is alive and well, with many athletes and countries making their mark on history in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. The next Olympics will be in Paris in 2024.