NBC Has a Tough Road Ahead as It Begins Its Beijing Olympics Push

Just 1 in 4 Americans is aware that the next Olympics are scheduled for Winter 2022
This week, NBC is launching its "100 Days Out" marketing push to drive awareness for the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games. Just a quarter of Americans currently know there will be games next year. (Getty Images/Morning Consult artwork by Ashley Berry)
October 27, 2021 at 12:01 am UTC

NBC has its work cut out for it as the network begins promoting the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. With 100 days until the opening ceremony, the share of Americans who are aware that the games are happening at all is far lower than it was ahead of this past summer’s Tokyo Games, which were the least-viewed Olympics on record.

What the numbers say

  • In a Morning Consult survey conducted last week, just 26 percent of U.S. adults were aware that the next Olympic Games are scheduled for winter 2022, while only 21 percent correctly identified Beijing as the host city. By comparison, 40 percent of Americans surveyed in March were aware of the Summer Games and 36 percent could correctly point to Tokyo as the host city. The postponement of the Tokyo Games from 2020 and news about surging coronavirus cases in Japan likely boosted awareness of the Summer Games.
  • “This is the baseline that NBC has to grow from, with the goal of getting it to half the population or more,” Joe Brown, an NBC Sports researcher-turned-media consultant, said of the awareness figure. “Would you like to be ahead of 26 percent right now? Absolutely. But you have 100 days to catch up.”
  • The share of Americans who said they plan to watch the 2022 Winter Games was also significantly lower than it was for last summer’s Tokyo Games at the same point. Forty-one percent of U.S. adults said they plan to watch “a lot” or “some” of the Beijing Games either on TV or via a streaming platform, well below the 61 percent who said in March that they planned to watch the same amount of the Tokyo Games.
  • While several prominent U.S. politicians have called for a boycott of the games due to the Chinese government’s alleged human rights violations, only 29 percent of U.S. adults expressed support for having the United States sit out.

Shaun White Is in a League of His Own Among Potential U.S. Winter Olympians

U.S. adults were asked whether they have heard of the following athletes and their opinion of each:
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Poll conducted Oct. 22-25, 2021, among 2,200 U.S. adults, with a margin of error of +/-2%.

What the numbers say

  • Snowboarder Shaun White was the most well-known of the U.S. Winter Olympic hopefuls, with 54 percent of U.S. adults indicating they are familiar with the three-time gold medalist and 31 percent expressing a favorable opinion of him. Awareness of snowboarder Chloe Kim (33 percent), skier Mikaela Shiffrin (28 percent) and figure skater Nathan Chen (27 percent) — all of whom are featured alongside White in NBC’s new promotional spot — was significantly lower. Apart from the absence of skier Lindsey Vonn, who retired in 2019, that’s the same group of U.S. athletes the network spotlighted ahead of the 2018 games.
  • The return of NHL players to the Olympics could offer NBC an additional selling point in its promotion of the Beijing Games, but the network might not be eager to feature the league’s stars in its Olympic marketing after it lost its broadcast rights to ESPN and Turner Sports earlier this year. Awareness of top Olympic hockey players, like Canada’s Sidney Crosby (38 percent) and USA’s Patrick Kane (33 percent), wasn’t particularly high, however, and Brown noted that most of the Olympic ice hockey games won’t be played during primetime in the United States.
A headshot photograph of Alex Silverman
Alex Silverman
Senior Reporter

Alex Silverman previously worked at Morning Consult as a reporter covering the business of sports.

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