American Interest in Olympics Hits All-Time Low

By Published on August 4, 2016

Only forty-eight percent of Americans plan to watch a “great deal” or “fair amount” of the 2016 Olympics, according to a new Gallop poll.

The new figures represent a sharp drop from 59 percent in 2012, revealing the lowest percentage of Americans planning to watch the summer games in recent years. Thirty percent said that they plan to watch “not much” of the Olympics, and 21% responded that they plan to watch “none at all,” which is the highest figure since Gallop started asking the question in 2000.

The poll may concern NBC, who in 2011 agreed to a $4.38 billion contract with the International Olympic Committee to broadcast the Olympics through the 2020 games, the most expensive television rights deal in Olympic history. In 2014, NBC extended their contract with the Olympics for $7.75 billion to air the Olympics through the 2032 games.

While NBC lost $223 million during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, they claim that Olympic broadcast rights aren’t only about money and that the games are slowly creeping towards profitably. The network has been airing the Olympic Games continually since 1988 and believes that broadcasting the games benefits other NBC programming. NBC’s deal with the Olympics is also seen as part of the brand’s legacy.

Many Americans do not even know where the Olympics will be taking place this year. While countless controversies are highlighting the news leading up to the games, fewer Americans are able to identify where the Olympics are taking place than in previous years. Less than half know the Olympics will be held in Rio, while 61 percent of Americans correctly identified Brazil as the host nation, which is down from 73 percent who correctly identified England as the host nation in 2012.

One interesting data point is the sharp decline in women viewership. While men (49 percent) and women (47 percent) have about the same interest in watching the 2016 Olympics, it represents a steep drop among females from 2012, when 63% of women said they planned to watch the Olympics a “great deal” or “fair amount.”

Poll results came from data compiled between July 13-17, just weeks before the 2016 Olympics were set to begin Aug. 5 in Brazil.

The Olympics opening ceremony will air Friday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on NBC.


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