Olympics opening ceremony sees big spike in streaming audience

Olympics flag
NBCUniversal said the opening ceremony this year drew approximately 17 million viewers in the U.S., down 36% from 2016. (Olympics.com)

The opening ceremony for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics managed to draw a much bigger streaming audience than the same event at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.

According to Conviva, a company that specializes in streaming and social media data and analytics, streaming activity for Friday’s opening ceremony spiked at 279% over the 2018 opening ceremony. Along with growth in time spent streaming, the company also recorded quality gains—35% fewer start failures, 7% less buffering and 1% higher bitrate than average—for this year’s festivities.

Surprisingly, smaller screens grabbed a significant chunk of total streaming time during the opening ceremony and eclipsed connected TV’s share. According to Conviva’s data, mobile phones and desktops each captured 27% of streaming viewing time while connected TV devices captured 23%.

RELATED: Roku teams with NBCUniversal for Olympics streaming experience

NBCUniversal said the opening ceremony this year drew approximately 17 million viewers in the U.S., down 36% from 2016, but the streaming audience on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app was up 76% compared with the 2018 opening ceremony and 72% compared to the same event in 2016.

In addition to extensive streaming coverage across Comcast’s Xfinity Flex platform and Peacock, NBCU also worked with major streaming platforms to provide enhanced viewing experiences for consumers outside of traditional TV.

Roku worked to provide easier access to NBCU’s 5,500 hours of streaming coverage of the Summer Games directly from the home screen of supported Roku devices and Roku smart TVs. Roku users will be able to access coverage of the Olympic Games in Tokyo via the NBC Sports or Peacock channels.

Amazon Fire TV also launched an immersive Olympics experience including a dedicated landing page for Olympics coverage. Users will need a subscription to one of the following apps to watch: NBC Sports, Peacock, Sling TV, YouTube TV or Hulu + Live TV subscription via the Hulu app. Throughout all 17 days, users can access a new live TV and on-demand row powered by NBC Sports that brings together moments and replays from all the competitions, along with a new row for Peacock originals.