June 30, 2021

Let the games begin!

Julia McCray

Senior Media Strategist

Why in 2021

The Olympics are 17 days of our greatest athletes performing with the world watching. The 2020 Olympic Summer Games were postponed, due to the pandemic.  

Tokyo, the host city, says they will go on in 2021 but not without controversy or debate. 

The debate

No foreign visitors. The number of foreign athletes, staff, media, and members of the Olympic family have been reduced by more than half. Without fans Tokyo will not reap the tourist economic benefits. 60-80% of locals are saying this is a super spreader event and want it called off.  As of this writing, Japan was seeing a surge in Covid-19 case, and the decision to cancel is still an option, an option that does not look very likely.

Where to Watch

If the games do go on as currently planned, here in the states this is what you can expect. Tokyo is 13 hours ahead of the Eastern Time Zone. The summer games will feature. 41 sporting events, including new competitions such as baseball, softball, skateboarding, surfing and karate. The events will air on NBC, six cable networks and multiple streaming platforms.

The Opening Ceremonies will air live on Broadcast 7am Eastern and then repeated during prime time. with over 7,000 hours to be covered: 

  • The popular competitions, including men’s and women’s basketball, women’s soccer, swimming and gymnastics will air on NBC.
  • The Olympic Channel will air Team USA competitions, including wrestling and tennis. 
  • The Golf Channel will air golf events.
  • Telemundo Deportes will air competitions in Spanish language.
  • CNBC will air diving, beach volleyball, rowing, water polo and rugby.
  • Additional events can be found on NBCSN and USA 
  • And more than 5,000 hours will stream on NBColympics.com


Who's Watching

Historically, the Summer Olympics has been a massive draw for viewers. In 2016 Rio attracted an average of 27.5 million viewers across all NBC platforms. The 2012 Games in London attracted roughly 31 million viewers, and the 2008 Beijing Olympics averaged 27 million viewers.  In comparison this year's Super Bowl in February drew 96 million viewers and it was one the lowest viewerships.

However, in 2021, with all the controversy and all the places to watch, we may see a dip in viewership!

But NBC is working to provide content in places where people are consuming and partnered with Twitch (a social media platform of creators).  “The way that people consume traditional sporting events is changing. They no longer want to simply spectate; they want to be as close to the action and athletes as possible.” said Michael Aragon, Chief Content Officer at Twitch. “The Olympics present an opportunity for a global fan base to embrace this new world of live and interactive sports. We are thrilled to partner with NBC to give fans in the United States an intimate, front row seat to this iconic sporting event and connect American athletes and fans in a way that can only happen on Twitch.”

Some of the many interactive tools that NBC and Twitch will launch leading into and during the Games

  • Daily Interactive Clip Show - the day's best moments
  • Daily Competition – three teams of Twitch creators will compete in a daily competition featuring family-friendly games. 
  • Primetime Sidecasting – creators will be commentating live on a companion interactive broadcast that encourages co-viewing of the nightly primetime broadcast 
  • Live From Tokyo – feature Olympic athlete interviews and  also feature behind the scenes snapshots and live interactions 

Winter Games 2022 Beijing 

Only 7 months until the Beijing Winter Games in February. It is being reported that NBC may be asking $6 million for a 30-second Super Bowl LVI spot, up from this year's $5.5 million and as a negotiation leverage suggesting that the best Super Bowl placement may be contingent on buying an equal amount of inventory in the Winter Olympics.

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