Beijing Olympics | Expected drop in ratings

The low rankings of the Beijing Olympics do not necessarily reflect a lack of interest from the Quebec public. The numbers are only part of the story.

Posted at 7:00 am
Updated at 8:29 AM.

Marc-Andre Lemieux

Marc-Andre Lemieux
Journalism

Radio Canada will publish its report on the 2022 Winter Olympics on Tuesday, and while we don’t know its exact content, we do know that it will reveal a drop in TV viewership.

The little data collected over the past two weeks reflects this trend.

For example, the opening party on February 4, hosted by Marie-José Turcot and Céline Gallebo, crowded 872,000 fans on ICI Télé and RDS, according to Numéris (233,000 live in the morning and 669,000 in rebroadcasts in the evening). At the previous Winter Games in PyeongChang in 2018, it attracted a total of 1,125,000 on ICI Télé and RDS. This is a 23% decrease.

The closing ceremony was given on Sunday, and it suffered an even bigger drop.

The two broadcasts attracted a total of 547,000 viewers on ICI Télé, a 38% decrease compared to 888,000 on PyeongChang.

In the US, it’s basically the same story. According to an article by The Hollywood Reporter Published online on Monday, the channels of NBCUniversal Group, the rights holder to broadcast the Beijing games on US soil, recorded an average of 11.4 million viewers in prime time over the past two weeks, down 42% from 2018, when 19.8 million viewers were loyal to the station.

digital migration

Martin Chamberland Press Photo

Games opening ceremony on February 4

There are a number of factors that may explain this drop in ratings. Vice President, Activation, at Cossette Media, an agency specializing in media placement, Geneviève Marchand first mentions the decline in TV viewing in general. In fact, linear television (commonly known as “traditional”) is losing its feathers every year. In terms of access, there is talk of a 6% decline from 2020 to 2021.

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The growing popularity of video-on-demand services like Netflix also enters the equation.

Another important factor: the possibility of watching the Olympic Games in a place other than the small screen; On the publisher application, in particular.

Radio Canada allows people to follow the Olympic Games on other platforms. It gave us the opportunity to watch some shows during our business hours. Do not count these numbers in terms of listening.

Genevieve Marchand, Vice President, Activation, at Cossette

Radio Canada will unveil its digital data on Tuesday. Logically, progress should appear.

Between contradiction and disagreement

Certain factors closely related to the 2022 Winter Olympics caused TV viewers to have a meltdown. The time difference of 13 hours between Beijing and Montreal is especially responsible.

“We brought almost nothing on air,” comments Pierre Barrett, director of the School of Media at the University of Quebec in Montreal. “The Olympics is the kind of event we want to see live. That feeling of being late always, plays.”

PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, ARCHIVES LA PRESSE

Russian figure skater Camila Valeeva

The bad press surrounding the Beijing Games may have undermined their ratings. We think especially in the case of Camila Valeeva, this 15-year-old Russian snowboarder who is licensed to pursue her Olympic dream despite a positive doping test. Moreover, even before the competitions began, many observers strongly criticized the decision of the International Olympic Committee to hold these games in China, a country that violates human rights.

“Maybe that made listening less interesting for some people,” says Pierre Barrett. One thing is for sure that it did not bring back the gaming image. »

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covid factor

COVID-19 could have played a role, too. Talk to the event organizers. Indeed, for almost two years, in both the US and Quebec, award ceremonies (Oscars, Jimo, Artes) have struggled to match the numbers they reached before the pandemic. The fact that they are being held behind closed doors largely explains this wear. The popularity of the Olympics would have suffered from the same syndrome.

“I’ve never been a big fan of figure skating,” said Pierre Barrett, “but in front of a scene like this, I like to have the impression that I’m following a crowd-sourcing event.”

Usually, the stands are full. Atmosphere is good. But at the Beijing Olympics, we saw three or four people scattered around the audience. It made things a little cool. It was less fun.

Pierre Barrett, Director of the School of Mass Communication at the University of Quebec in Montreal

In short, the list of reasons for the decline in ratings is long. Canadian Athletes Shows, Thanks to Canada’s Appearance at 4And the Medal table website, you may not be a part of it.

“Quebec athletes have won many medals,” said Genevieve Marchand of Cosette Media. It certainly wasn’t their performance in games that affected the ratings. People were still interested. »

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