Simone Biles from the USA in action on the balance beam, finals, Ariake Gymnastics Center, Tokyo, Japan, August 3, 2021.
Lindsey Wasson | Reuters
The Tokyo Olympics had an average of 17.4 million viewers for Tuesday’s coverage, and NBCUniversal’s overall prime-time average stayed at 16.8 million viewers on its platforms, the media company said on Wednesday.
Gym star Simone Biles returned to the competition Tuesday morning and helped attract the crowd. Biles retired from the events last week on mental health grounds but returned on Tuesday to win a bronze medal in the women’s balance beam. The 24-year-old Biles now has seven Olympic medals, which is what Shannon Miller has most in common among Olympic gymnasts in the USA.
NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC, found that only television attracted 16.8 million viewers as of Tuesday. The start of track and field competitions helped too, and US women’s football and US men’s basketball were two of the top attractions for the Tokyo Olympics earlier this week. The US women’s team fell 1-0 against Canada and was eliminated from the hunt for gold. This competition ended early Monday morning. The men’s knockout round victory over Spain (quarter-finals) was shown on NBC’s streaming service Peacock and ended at around 2 a.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday.
The Tokyo Games rebounded from the low ratings during the opening ceremony, which drew around 17 million viewers. The opening weekend drew 19.8 million viewers for the July 25 coverage of the US men’s basketball team losing to France.
After that, however, the numbers began to decline, as viewership averaged 15.5 million viewers on TV and streaming last Friday. However, viewers streamed around 3 billion minutes of Tokyo Olympics content through its platforms, including Peacock, and NBCUniversal estimates the total will surpass the 2016 Rio Olympics, which streamed 3.3 billion minutes.
If advertisers don’t get negotiated impressions, they’ll get finished goods inventory on other NBC programs. Historically, the Summer Olympics have been a huge draw for spectators. In 2016, the two-week event drew an average of 27.5 million viewers across all NBC platforms. The 2012 London Games attracted around 31 million viewers, while the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing attracted an average of 27 million viewers.
Sydney McLaughlin from the United States poses with her gold medal for the women’s 400m hurdles, Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan, August 4, 2021.
Lindsey Wasson | Reuters
Olympic profiles raised and new names discovered
If sponsors don’t get the impressions from the U.S. viewership, athletes cannot maximize their advertising deals, said Edward Schauder, sports attorney at law firm Phillips Nizer.
Schauder has negotiated advertising deals with top athletes, including Tiger Woods and the US Olympic ice hockey team from 1980.
However, performance can trump ratings, and winning multiple gold medals would help overcome the low impressions as companies make long-term use of iconic Olympic names.
“Anyone who wins gold medals like Mark Spitz will always be known,” said Schauder. “You win 28 medals like Michael Phelps, you will always be known.”
This year, the swimmer Caeleb Dressel, who won five gold medals in Tokyo, shone. He joined Spitz and Phelps to win at least five medals in one summer. And with $ 37,500 per gold medal, Dressel earned a six-figure payday. Dressel is already associated with top sponsors including Toyota and Coca-Cola and made the rounds in national media on Tuesday after his return to the US
US swimmer Katie Ledecky also stood out, especially in the fight with Australian Ariarne Titmus in the women’s 400m freestyle. Ledecky won four medals at the Tokyo Games and now has 10 medals in her Olympic career.
US athlete Sydney McLaughlin (gold) set a new world record in the women’s 400-meter hurdles on Tuesday. McLaughlin, the former Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year, defeated his US runner Dalilah Muhammad and finished in 51:47 seconds.
McLaughlin, 21, works with watch manufacturer TAG Heuer and has a contract with clothing company New Balance.
“There will also be one or two athletes that everyone is talking about,” said Schauder. Marketing and film producers could “identify cool stories people will hear after the Olympics”.
Gymnast Suni Lee and golfer Xander Schauffele as two of the more exciting storylines that emerged from the Ames.
After Biles retired from the competition, Lee, 18, stepped in and won the women’s all-round tournament, extending the United States’ 17-year streak of victories at the event. Schauffele was involved in a final kick with the Slovak Rory Sabbatini. Women’s wrestler Tamyra Mensah-Stock was also second on the Facebook list after becoming the first black woman to win gold in the competition that first took place in 2004.
The 13-year-old women Momiji Nishiya (Japan) and Rayssa Leal (Brazil) were also popular internationally at the Games in Tokyo. Nishiya won gold and Leal won silver in the women’s street skateboarding competition, one of the new sports added to the Olympics. And 13-year-old Sky Brown became Britain’s youngest ever Olympic medalist with bronze in the women’s park skateboarding final.
College athletes should also benefit from the name, image, and likeness when they return to universities.
“You will be able to add Olympic medalists to your profile and be a member of an Olympic team,” said Schauder. “It’s like when Christian Laettner benefited from being the college kid who played on the Dream Team.”
On Wednesday, the US remains in first place with a total of 79 medals (25 gold). China has 70 medals (32 gold) and the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) is third with 53 total medals.
Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal owns NBC Sports and NBC Olympics. NBC Olympics owns the U.S. broadcast rights to all Summer and Winter Games through 2032.