David Bauder
David is a national media writer.
dbauderdbauder@ap.org

NBC’s scores are in: Record low Olympics ratings

February 23, 2022 GMT
Fireworks explode during the closing ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Fireworks explode during the closing ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Fireworks explode during the closing ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Fireworks explode during the closing ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Fireworks explode during the closing ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

NEW YORK (AP) — The final scores are in, and NBC is no doubt happy to put the Beijing Winter Olympics in the rear-view mirror.

The games reached an average combined audience of 11.4 million people in prime time on NBC, the USA cable network and Peacock streaming service, the network said. That’s the lowest-ever American audience for any Olympics, and down 42% from the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in 2018.

For NBC alone, the prime time telecasts reached an average of 9.3 million viewers, or 48% down from South Korea, the Nielsen company said.

The games never really captured the public imagination, and were hurt by COVID-19 restrictions that had most of NBC’s announcers working half a world away in Connecticut.

In a diminished world for broadcast television, however, NBC beat every other network in prime time during the Games’ duration. Only pro football can say the same this season. The Peacock streaming service, which will undoubtedly play a bigger role in future Olympics, had its best stretch of usage since the service began, NBC said.

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Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBC Universal television and streaming, said Peacock “delivered a user experience that was greatly enhanced from just six months ago” during the COVID-delayed Tokyo Summer Olympics.

For the week, NBC averaged 7.2 million viewers in prime time. CBS had 3 million, ABC had 2.7 million, Fox had 2 million, Univision had 1.5 million, Ion Television had 1.3 million and Telemundo had 1 million.

Fox News Channel was the most popular cable network in prime time, averaging 2.42 million viewers. TNT had 2.01 million, MSNBC had 1.05 million, HGTV had 1.02 million and Hallmark had 968,000.

ABC’s “World News Tonight” won the evening news ratings race with an average of 8.7 million viewers. NBC’s “Nightly News,” with virtually none of the typical ratings bump that an Olympics delivers, had 7 million viewers and the “CBS Evening News” had 5.3 million.

For the week of Feb., 14-20, the top 20 prime-time programs, their networks and viewerships:

1. Winter Olympics (Tuesday), NBC, 8.71 million.

2. Winter Olympics (Thursday, 8:30 to 11 p.m.), NBC, 8.53 million.

3. Winter Olympics (Monday), NBC, 7.89 million.

4. Winter Olympics (Friday, 9 to 11 p.m.), NBC, 7.25 million.

5. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 6.98 million.

6. Winter Olympics (Wednesday, 8:30 to 11 p.m.), NBC, 6.94 million.

7. Winter Olympics (Saturday, 9 to 11 p.m.), NBC, 6.77 million.

8. Winter Olympics (Thursday, 8 to 8:30 p.m.), NBC, 6.74 million.

9. Winter Olympics (Friday, 8 to 9 p.m.), NBC, 6.72 million.

10. Winter Olympics Closing Ceremonies, NBC, 6.57 million.

11. Winter Olympics (Wednesday, 8 to 8:30 p.m.), NBC, 6.42 million.

12. Winter Olympics (Saturday, 8 to 9 p.m.), NBC, 5.86 million.

13. NBA All-Star Game, TNT, 5.43 million

14. “Daytona 500 Post Race,” Fox, 5.42 million.

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15. “911: Lone Star,” Fox, 4.95 million.

16. “Jeopardy! College Championship” (Thursday), ABC, 4.82 million.

17. “Jeopardy! College Championship” (Friday), ABC, 4.73 million.

18. “The Price is Right Valentine Show,” CBS, 4.66 million.

19. “Jeopardy! College Championship” (Wednesday), ABC, 4.64 million.

20. “Young Sheldon,” CBS, 4.35 million.