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Entertainment: Tokyo Olympics Ratings Highs and Lows So Far – And How They Stack Up to 2016 Rio Games

USA TODAY Sports picks every medal for every Olympic event

  USA TODAY Sports picks every medal for every Olympic event Simone Biles will lead the way for the Americans with five golds in our projection, which has Team USA winning 133 medals, its most since 1984.That total estimate would be the greatest number of medals earned by the U.S. since the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics when the host nation raked in 174. Fifty-nine gold medals would be the U.S.’s best since earning 83 in Los Angeles. The U.S. ranked No. 1 in total medals and gold medals for the past two consecutive Summer Olympics in Rio (121 total, 46 gold) and London (104 total, 46 gold).

After a year's delay due to the pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics got off to a rocky start on NBC last Friday with an opening ceremony that was down 35% in total viewers compared to the 2016 kickoff to the Rio de Janeiro Summer Games, an all-time low in viewership.

Tokyo Olympics Week 1 Ratings © TheWrap Tokyo Olympics Week 1 Ratings

One week later, we have six nights of Nielsen data that give a better idea of overall interest in NBC's Tokyo Olympics coverage. We also know which night took the gold and which didn't even medal — and how they stack up to Rio's comparable evenings.

Through Thursday, the Tokyo Olympics are averaging a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 17.5 million primetime viewers. That number counts linear viewing on NBC and cable networks USA Network, NBCSN, CNBC, plus streaming on Peacock, the NBC Sports app and NBCOlympics.com.

Olympics schedule 2021: Day-by-day TV coverage to watch Tokyo Games on NBC channels, stream online

  Olympics schedule 2021: Day-by-day TV coverage to watch Tokyo Games on NBC channels, stream online Here's what's happening at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics today as well as a TV schedule to watch every event in the United States and Canada.During the 2016 Rio Olympics, the United States broadcast 6,755 hours of Olympic action. Canada itself produced over 2,000 hours. Each country could set new Summer Games-highs in 2021.

But viewership is down 42% overall from the Rio Olympics in 2016, which averaged a TAD of 30.5 million primetime viewers through the first Thursday of competition. That tally, of course, does not include numbers from streaming service Peacock, which launched last spring.

So, yeah, that's way down, but TV ratings overall have been in a steady decline in recent years, making comparing 2016 viewership to 2021 viewership a tricky situation. That's why we should note that the first six nights of competition (Saturday-Thursday) for NBC's Tokyo Olympics coverage have accounted for six of the 18 most-watched primetime shows in 2021. Again, down from Rio, but still impressive in today's viewership-diminished TV landscape.

The most-watched night during Week 1 of the 2021 Olympics was Sunday night, with a TAD of 20 million viewers.

Tokyo Olympics: A success? A failure? And how to judge?

  Tokyo Olympics: A success? A failure? And how to judge? TOKYO (AP) — Will it be a success? A failure? Or none of the above? It will take something much more nuanced than those basic notions to assess the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics when they wrap up in two weeks. The response will be twisted by dozens of parties with their own interests. There's the International Olympic Committee. The 11,000 athletes. The Japanese organizing committee. The Japanese public. The absent fans. And how about the sponsors? Or the Japanese government and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. There is the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and Governor Yuriko Koike, who has higher political aspirations. The Tokyo medical community.

That night, four-time Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles led the U.S. women's gymnastics team in qualifying, marking the last time Biles competed during the Olympic competition before withdrawing from Tuesday's all-around event and later from the individual events. Also on Sunday, swimmer Caeleb Dressel took gold in the men's 4x100m freestyle relay and Katie Ledecky grabbed silver in the women's 400m freestyle.

That's a whopping 45% drop from the most-watched night from the first six days of the Rio games — a Tuesday that drew 36.1 million viewers for an evening in which star gymnast Biles and Team USA took gold in the women's team finale and the U.S. won gold in these swimming events: women's 200m freestyle, men's 200m butterfly and men's 4 x 200m freestyle relay.

On the flip side, the least-watched night for the first week of the Tokyo Olympics was Wednesday, with 15 million viewers. That night, Robert Finke scored gold in the men's 800m freestyle, Dressel got the gold for the men's 100m freestyle, and Ledecky led Team USA to a silver in the women's 4x200m freestyle relay, while the U.S. did not medal in the men's individual all-around final in gymnastics.

Olympic viewing guide: Why Simone Biles didn't 'quit', and Penny swims for another record

  Olympic viewing guide: Why Simone Biles didn't 'quit', and Penny swims for another record Here's what to watch Wednesday night and Thursday morning, including Penny Oleksiak's attempt to make more Canadian history and some context to help understand why Simone Biles isn't competing in the women's all-around final.Canada's two best medal chances on Day 6 are also in women's events. We'll get to those in a minute, along with some other interesting news you need to know.

Interestingly, that corresponding Wednesday during NBC's Rio coverage in 2016 had the smallest audience for Week 1 of those games, drawing 28.6 million viewers — nearly twice as many as the Tokyo Games' low night. During that primetime window, Ledecky and Team USA took a gold for the women's 4x200m freestyle relay, Michael Phelps scored a gold in the men's 200m individual medley and Ryan Murphy won gold in the men's 200m backstroke.

While not the most-watched night of Week 1 of Tokyo's games, we should note here that Thursday's primetime coverage, which saw Suni Lee winning gold in the women's gymnastics all-around, multiple U.S. medal-winning performances in the pool and the beginning of the track & field competition, is the highest-rated night so far with a 10.8 household rating, per Nielsen. It had a 19.5 million TAD, making it the second most-watched night of the week.

Readers can see a breakdown of viewers for the first six nights of primetime Tokyo Olympics coverage below, along with the events that aired on those nights and how the TADs stack up to Rio's comparable Nielsen returns. For the sake of simplicity, we've only noted the events that aired on NBC during primetime each night, though the TAD figures, as previously stated, also include viewership for other events coverage on cable and streaming for that window.

Olympic viewing guide: Andre De Grasse goes for gold, Penny's last shot

  Olympic viewing guide: Andre De Grasse goes for gold, Penny's last shot Here's what to watch on a super Saturday night and Sunday morning that features one of Canada's biggest Olympic stars going for the title of World's Fastest Man and another trying to break the national record for medals.A mouth-watering Day 9 is coming up as the last night of swimming competition leads into track and field's marquee event: the men's 100 metres. Canada's two biggest Summer Olympic stars, Penny Oleksiak and Andre De Grasse, can add to their already-impressive medal collections.

Night 1: Saturday, 8 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.

Tokyo TAD: 15.9 million

Rio TAD: 23.5 million

Tokyo Events: Swimming Finals (LIVE) Men's 400m Individual Medley, Men's 400m Freestyle, Women's 400m Individual Medley, Women's 4x100m Freestyle Relay, Women's Beach Volleyball - Ross/Klineman (U.S.) vs. Xue/Wang (China) (LIVE), Gymnastics - Men's Team Competition, Skateboarding - Men's Street Qualifying

Night 2: Sunday, 7 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.

Tokyo TAD: 20 million

Rio TAD: 31.8 million

Tokyo Events: Swimming - Finals (LIVE) Women's 100m Butterfly, Men's 100m Breaststroke, Women's 400m Freestyle, Men's 4Ã--100 Freestyle Relay, Gymnastics - Women's Team Competition, Triathlon - Men's Final (LIVE), Skateboarding - Women's Street Qualifying

Night 3: Monday, 8 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.

Tokyo TAD: 16.8 million

Rio TAD: 31.5 million

Tokyo Events: Swimming - Finals (LIVE) Men's 200m Freestyle, Women's 100m Backstroke, Men's 100m Backstroke, Women's 100m Breaststroke, Gymnastics - Men's Team Final, Diving - Men's Synchronized Platform Final, Triathlon - Women's Final

Night 4: Tuesday, 8 p.m. - 12 a.m.

Tokyo TAD: 16.2 million

Rio TAD: 36.1 million

Events: Swimming - Finals (LIVE) Women's 200m Freestyle, Men's 200m Butterfly, Women's 200m Individual Medley, Women's 1500m Freestyle, Men's 4x200m Freestyle Relay, Gymnastics - Women's Team Final

Night 5: Wednesday, 8 p.m. - 12 a.m.

Tokyo TAD: 15 million

Rio TAD: 28.6 million

Events: Swimming - Finals (LIVE) Men's 800m Freestyle, Men's 200m Breaststroke, Women's 200m Butterfly, Men's 100m Freestyle, Women's 4x200m Freestyle Relay, Gymnastics - Men's Individual All-Around, Diving - Men's Synchronized Springboard Final

Night 6: Thursday, 8 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.

Tokyo TAD: 19.5 million

Rio TAD: 33 million

Events: Swimming - Finals (LIVE) Women's 200m Breaststroke, Men's 200m Backstroke, Women's 100m Freestyle, Men's 200m Individual Medley, Gymnastics - Women's All-Around, Track & Field - Qualifying Rounds (LIVE), Women's 800m, Men's 400m Hurdles, Women's 100m, Swimming - Semifinals

Tokyo Olympics cost $15.4 billion. What else could that buy? .
TOKYO (AP) — The official price tag for the Tokyo Olympics in $15.4 billion, which a University of Oxford study says is the most expensive on record. What else could those billions buy? The ballpark figure for building a 300-bed hospital in Japan in $55 million. So you could put up almost 300 of these. The average elementary school in Japan costs about $13 million. For that price, you get 1,200 schools. A quick search finds a Boeing 747 is priced at roughly $400 million. Voila: 38 jumbo jets for the cost of the Tokyo Olympics. The point is, Olympic Games are costly and may bump aside other priorities.

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