Anticipation for 2024 Paris Olympics Is On Par With That of Tokyo Games

Advertisers should leverage the global event on their social channels to bring in Gen Z viewers
Share of U.S. adults who said how much they expect to watch the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, either on television, via streaming, or in person
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“Not very much” and “None” response options are not visualized.
Surveys conducted Feb. 15-17, 2024, Jan. 27-28, 2021, July 9-13, 2021, and July 19-Aug. 2, 2021, among representative samples of at least 2,000 U.S. adults, and unweighted margins of error no bigger than +/- 2 percentage points.
March 18, 2024 at 5:00 am UTC

Key Takeaways

  • 59% of U.S. adults say they expect to watch the 2024 Paris Games, equal to the share who said the same ahead of the Tokyo  Games in 2021.

  • This means ratings for the Paris Games could match Tokyo’s disappointing viewership, even though this summer’s games don’t face the same hurdles as the last Summer Olympics.

  • Sponsors and advertisers should still leverage this global event by highlighting the events that viewers are most excited to watch — swimming, gymnastics and basketball — on their socials, where younger consumers are likely to engage.

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Americans are about as excited about the 2024 Paris Games as they were about the Tokyo Games, according to new Morning Consult research, a somewhat ominous sign for advertisers looking to make up for lackluster Olympic viewership in 2021.

Roughly 2 in 5 (59%) U.S. adults say they expect to watch the 2024 Paris Olympics, equal to the share who said the same of the Tokyo Games in 2021. Considering that previous Morning Consult research shows that anticipated Olympic viewership slips over time, and that reported viewership falls even more in surveys taken after the Games, ratings for 2024 Paris Games could match Tokyo’s disappointing ratings.

That said, in a bright spot for sponsors and advertisers, we are seeing more respondents say they’ll watch “a lot” of the Olympics this round, 25% vs. 20% for Tokyo.

To be sure, the Tokyo Games were unique in a number of ways. U.S. fans were dealing with a 13-hour time difference between New York and Tokyo in 2021. Headliner Olympic events were broadcasted via tape-delay to secure more prime-time audiences — but in the age of 24-hour news and social media, many Americans saw competition spoilers, denting anticipation and potentially prime-time viewership. 

Tokyo was also managing calls for further postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, after already being postponed one year, all amid a surge of athlete political protests.

The Paris Olympics, set to kickoff on July 26, aren’t facing such hurdles. The six-hour time difference means most coverage will air live throughout the day and marque finals will air live in the morning or late afternoon. If the past is prologue, it’s fair to say we’ll see anticipated viewership drop as the Games near, as it did for Tokyo 2020 and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. But because Tokyo’s broadcast dealt with dynamics that Paris’ does not, the decline might not be as sharp.

Knowing how much of Gen Z — and Gen Alpha — live their lives on social platforms, Olympics sponsors and advertisers should still leverage this global event by highlighting the competitions that viewers are excited to watch on their social platforms, bulking up those channels’ audiences. It will be a challenge to pique younger consumers’ interest, as Gen Z’s viewership for the 2022 Beijing Games were dismal and the sports industry, at large, continues to wrestle with a generation that doesn’t seem to care for sports.

As for what to highlight on social, most U.S. adults (61%) and Gen Zers (54%) who plan to tune in to the Paris Olympics are doing so to watch specific sporting events, while roughly half of each audience say it’s to cheer for a certain country.

Swimming (62%), gymnastics (60%), and basketball (55%) have the most Americans excited to tune in, and they’re also the sports with some of the biggest star power. Swimmer Hunter Armstrong and basketball player Jimmer Fredette are generating early buzz in the media, as is the U.S. women’s gymnastics team, with fan favorite Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas and Shilese Jones hoping to take the mat in Paris. Like the average American, Gen Zers are also excited to tune in for basketball (63%), but weightlifting (56%) and soccer (54%) are the next two events the generation is most anticipating.

A headshot photograph of Joanna Piacenza
Joanna Piacenza
Head of Industry Analysis

Joanna Piacenza leads Industry Analysis at Morning Consult. Prior to joining Morning Consult, she was an editor at the Public Religion Research Institute, conducting research at the intersection of religion, culture and public policy. Joanna graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications and holds a master’s degree in religious studies from the University of Colorado Boulder. For speaking opportunities and booking requests, please email [email protected].

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