Evidence shows that people are losing interest in the Olympics
The weeks and months leading up to the Rio Olympics have been filled with problematic stories about the games and the city of Rio de Janeiro's ability to host them, and it looks as if 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 said they would watch a "great deal" or "fair amount" of the Olympics, while 51% said they would watch "not much" or "none at all." This is a reversal of the usual numbers, as 55 to 60% of Americans typically plan to watch a lot of Olympics on TV.
This is troublesome for NBC's coverage, as the company paid $4.4 billion for the rights to the four Olympics held from 2014 to 2020. The Rio Olympics were supposed to be the biggest of the four, both because they took place during summer and because Rio is just one hour earlier than the eastern time zone.
It is also worrisome for NBC because it 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. Women are typically the demographic most drawn to watching the Olympics on TV, and that drives NBC's production. This year, however, only 47% of American women plan to watch a "great deal" or "fair amount" of the Olympics, compared with 63% during the London Olympics in 2012. Men are also down, but only from 53% to 49%.
It will be interesting to see whether interest in the games rises once they start and the negative stories slow down. But for now, NBC's big money-maker seems poised to take a big hit in the ratings.