Beijing Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony Ratings Drop 43% From 2018 With 16 Million Viewers

28.3 million viewers watched the start to the 2018 Games in PyeongChang

Opening Ceremony - Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Day 0
BEIJING, CHINA – FEBRUARY 04: Flag bearers Julia Dujmovits and Benjamin Maier of Team Austria carry their flag during the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at the Beijing National Stadium on February 04, 2022 in Beijing, China. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Ratings for the Beijing Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony for 2022 have hit a new low for linear television after NBC says on average 16 million people tuned into the telecast on Friday, according to preliminary data.

That’s down 43% from the 2018 winter games in PyeongChang, in which 28.3 million viewers tuned in. And it’s also below last year’s Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony in Tokyo, in which the four-hour telecast averaged 17 million viewers. Before that, the previous low over the last three decades was the 1992 Barcelona games, which had 21.6 million viewers.

The Beijing opening ceremony aired live on NBC and streamed on the Peacock streaming service beginning at 6:30 AM ET on Friday morning, and it then aired again during primetime. And of TV-only viewers, Friday’s ceremony averaged 14 million viewers, which is in line with last year’s Summer Olympics opening ceremony and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The high watermark for an opening ceremony was the London Games in 2012, when more than 40 million tuned into NBC’s tape-delayed coverage. That was the first year NBC provided access to Olympic competitions as they happened live, though the opening and closing ceremony were not part of that.

NBC says however that viewership on Peacock had its best-ever weekday, in which the streaming service’s coverage on Friday was watched for 190 million minutes of digital consumption.

“Led by extensive multiplatform coverage of the compelling Opening Ceremony, and by Nathan Chen’s spectacular performance on Thursday night, we are off to a strong start that is in line with the expectations of our advertising partners,” NBC Sports chairman Pete Bevacqua said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing our momentum with the competition tonight and in the weeks ahead.”

Like last year’s summer games, the Beijing Winter Olympics are taking place without fans or many press in order to help halt the spread of the coronavirus. Coverage of the Winter Olympics runs through Feb. 20.