The 2022 Olympic Games
*Disclaimer* This article is not suggesting any regression in skill or talent of any Olympic athletes from any country.
The Olympics Games happen bi-annually, quadrennially alternating between the summer and winter games. The spectacle does not require any further introduction. This article will unpack why the Olympic games do not feel as illustrious this year. I am aware that this viewpoint without data or factual evidence seems subjective. Viewership of the Olympics fluctuates over time, with summer Olympics perpetually getting more viewership and winning popular votes in polling. Over the last 10 or so years, the average viewership trend has been that of a negative one, and this current Olympic game is on track for a record low amount of viewership. “NBC’s viewership is nearly half of what it was four years ago” (Smith). I attribute that to three main reasons— first being, tensions with China; secondly, the geographical time differential; thirdly, a general decline in television viewership.
China’s government does not provide the same protections that we in the United States believe to be ‘inalienable’. The idea of human rights is something that is fluid overtime in that things will continue to be added, but things can not be exempted. Many in the United States are frustrated with China, particularly with their lack of transparency about Coronavirus information. This all stems from China’s un-American governmental regulations about their freedom of expression. In the preamble of the outbreak in Wuhan, certain Chinese doctors wanted to warn the public but were suppressed by government actors. The doctor’s information is even being labeled as “spreading rumors.” Throughout the course of the pandemic, China has been taking stands against academic journals airing China’s dirty laundry regarding the outbreak. This explicit censorship of information has made many Americans frown at China as a whole, leading to an informal boycott of this year’s games in Beijing.
The second reason people have not been watching the Olympics is because of the radical time difference between the United States and China. Beijing is thirteen hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. For Americans, it is impossible unless you are nocturnal to catch the events live. It is known that live events tend to gain more viewership because of a sense of urgency and “buzz”.
The third reason the Olympics aren't getting the same ratings is because of the global shift from cable towards streaming services. Cable is not as dominant as it was in the past. “The number of Americans who say they watch television via cable or satellite has dropped significantly from 76% in 2015 to 56% this year.” (Perez) People favor convenience, and the convenience of Netflix, which allows you to watch what you want when you want, has been pushing cable television further and further into the shadows.
It is the amalgamation of these factors among others that has led to the 2022 Winter Olympics having the lowest viewership among Americans per capita in history.