NBC’s Olympics opening ceremony coverage draws nearly 14 million U.S. TV viewers

(Reuters) – NBC’s full-day coverage of the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympic Games averaged close to 14 million US television viewers, according to preliminary data provided by Comcast-owned NBCUniversal on Saturday.

Across all platforms, including NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app, the average audience reached nearly 16 million people, the company said in an email. have announced a diplomatic boycott of the event for what they say are rights abuses against Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang region. China denies wrongdoing in Xinjiang and says camps for Uyghurs provide vocational training and curb religious extremism.

The Beijing Games, the second Olympics NBC will broadcast in the coronavirus pandemic, present an opportunity for the company to refine its strategy based on what it learned last summer. Its broadcast of the Tokyo Games, which were delayed for a year because of the pandemic, drew the smallest audience for the Summer Games since NBC began broadcasting them in 1988. Yet the competitions still pulled in the biggest audiences on television when they aired, making them attractive showcases for advertisers.

For Beijing, NBC said it is doing more to simplify the viewing experience, addressing how that last summer’s content was difficult to find across the company’s many platforms, including its Peacock streaming service.

NBC is streaming every Beijing event live on Peacock’s premium tier, in addition to airing coverage across the NBC broadcast network, USA Network and CNBC cable networks, NBCOlympics.com website and NBC Sports app. It is also offering a customizable schedule on NBCOlympics.com, and air on-screen cues during studio segments that remind viewers what’s coming up.

NBCUniversal paid $7.65 billion to extend its US broadcast rights for the Olympics through 2032.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Leslie Adler and Daniel Wallis)

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