Olympics without spectators could be a ratings disaster

Hosted by and

The Olympics start in two weeks, but because of a new state of emergency in Tokyo, there won’t be any fans watching the Games in-person. Photo by StreetVJ / Shutterstock

Japan has declared a state of emergency in Tokyo after a spike in coronavirus cases. This news comes as the Olympics are scheduled to begin there in two weeks. In an attempt to keep case numbers under control, Olympic organizers have banned almost all spectators from the games. 

The NBA played games mostly without in-person fans in 2020, and ratings were way down, even for the finals. There’s fear that the lack of spectators will cause a ratings disaster for the Olympics as well, and that’s a big problem for NBC and its streaming service Peacock. 

Peacock was supposed to launch with the Olympics in the summer of 2020. The games were postponed, but the launch went ahead, to not very impressive results. To date, the streamer only has about 3 million paying subscribers. NBC will attempt to draw viewers to the streamer by putting events including gymnastics and swimming exclusively on Peacock, but with the games taking on a muted tone, it’s not clear how much of a draw those competitions will be.



Kaitlin Parker