How to watch, NBC coverage strategy, new features and more – The Athletic

Ahead of the Tokyo Games last summer, with headwinds including a raging pandemic, no foreign fans at venues and delayed competition, NBCUniversal opted for corporate messaging that sounded like a wish: common experience of the Tokyo Olympics would bring people together. As NBC Sports Group Chairman Pete Bevacqua said at the time, “I think the world needs the Olympics more than ever. We’re going into it with huge optimism, and we really feel it’s going to be something special. »

An Olympics truism is that athletes always save the Games, even in the midst of the worst geopolitical and other issues. Their performance brings us back to the rings. But Tokyo didn’t offer the same community experience as previous Olympics. NBC’s average prime-time viewership each night across all of its platforms – online, cable and network – was 15.5 million, compared to an average of 26.7 million viewers for the Games. Rio in 2016. This was the lowest average prime-time audience for the Games on NBC, which has broadcast every Olympics since the summer of 1988.

There is usually a breathing period between the Olympics, but COVID has changed that paradigm on top of everything else. The Beijing Olympics are upon us, just six months after the end of the year-delayed Tokyo Games. Negative headwinds remain, from the pandemic, to an American public disapproving of China’s politics and human rights abuses, to a lack of domestic sports stars heading to the Games, especially in figure skating, to a diplomatic boycott by the United States of other Asia-based games with not-so-ideal time windows for the United States

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