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The ratings are out for NBC’s live coverage of the Opening Ceremonies for the 2022 Winter Olympics, and there is only one way to describe them: “cataclysmic.”
That is the word Yahoo Sports used to describe the audience turnout, which saw a 43 percent freefall from the 2018 Games in Seoul, South Korea.
According to an NBC press release, the network received only 16 million viewers across all its networks and streaming services. Preliminary data shows the television-only audience was substantially smaller, at less than 14 million viewers for the day.
It marks the lowest ratings of any Opening Ceremonies broadcast, knocking Canada off the “worse ever” podium for its Calgary games, which kicked off with 20.1 million.
Still, NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua claimed it was a “strong start.”
“Led by extensive multiplatform coverage of the compelling Opening Ceremony, and by Nathan Chen’s spectacular performance on Thursday night, we are off to a strong start that is in line with the expectations of our advertising partners,” said Bevacqua. “We look forward to continuing our momentum with the competition tonight and in the weeks ahead.”
Media outlets seem to be struggling to explain the low ratings without destroying the “everything is fine” narrative or angering Chinese officials.
“It seems as though the Olympics are not immune to the challenges faced by the lack of fans present, resultant from the current state of the Covid-19 pandemic,” writes Mediaite. “The excitement that is generally buzzing through Olympic stadiums has been diminished, leading to much less thrilling coverage.”
While the coronavirus may explain the devastating turn-out, it may be that selecting a communist country that commits genocide against its own people is just a really bad idea — especially if that communist country is also home to the very questionable origins of a global pandemic.
Or it could be that no one wanted to see a Uyghur girl, shamelessly used by the CCP to light the Olympic torch, while Savannah Guthrie spouted Xi Jinping taking points.
“This moment is quite provocative,” gushed Guthrie. “It’s a statement from the Chinese President Xi Jinping to choose an athlete from the Uyghur minority. An in-your-face response to those Western nations, including the U.S., who have called the Chinese treatment of that group ‘genocide’ and diplomatically boycotted these games.”
WATCH: @SavannahGuthrie calls a reported Uyghur co-lighting the Olympic flame, chosen by Xi Jinping, “an in-your-face response to those Western nations, including the U.S., who have called this Chinese treatment of that group genocide and diplomatically boycotted these games.” pic.twitter.com/NBRtIOROJt
— Jackson Richman (@jacksonrichman) February 4, 2022
As reported in American Wire News, the “online response to the story was intense,” as damning tweets flew from the likes of Nikki Haley, Josh Rogin, and Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee.
As opening ceremonies commence remember the Uyghur people are being tortured, raped, and sterilized in Chinese concentration camps. We are giving a country committing genocide the biggest propaganda victory it could ask for.
Really makes you wonder if the world meant #NeverAgain
— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) February 4, 2022
.@NBCNews both-sides approach to the Uyghur genocide:
“Western governments… allege… a systematic repression of Muslim Uyghurs"
“It has to be said that the Chinese government emphatically denies all of this. They say that accusations of genocide are the lie of the century.”
— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) February 4, 2022
NBC is spewing the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda during the Olympics.
Democrats are passing a “China” bill that doesn’t actually hold the CCP accountable.
Americans know this:
No one was tougher on China than President Trump!
— House Judiciary GOP (@JudiciaryGOP) February 4, 2022
The backlash against Guthrie and NBC was so severe that the International Olympic Committee successfully lobbied Twitter to have the clip removed, citing copyright issues.
NEW: Twitter told @DCExaminer it took down this video at the request of the International Olympic Committee (or its reps) over copyright claims by the IOC. A reminder that the IOC’s leader vowed to remain “politically neutral” on the CCP’s Uyghur abuses.https://t.co/LHvbpaK5DQ https://t.co/6OwZyyS7Jf
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) February 5, 2022
But games with China’s horrific human rights record were being played before the Games began.
On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was skewered for warning Olympians to forgo protesting and keep their mouths shut, lest they incur the wrath of the “ruthless” Chinese government.
Nancy Pelosi tells American athletes not to speak out on any Chinese genocide or human rights issues while they are at the Olympics. Maybe she can be the next NBA commissioner too? pic.twitter.com/oyTY74VPhJ
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) February 4, 2022
Keep your mouth shut and don't upset China. Welcome to America. Where Democrats don't want you to be free. Just do what your told. https://t.co/CAt2pkfH1b
— Corey Turbeville (@ctubz9) February 4, 2022
On The View, Joy Behar described Pelosi’s chilling warning as “maternal.”
👀The View's Joy Behar just excused Nancy Pelosi telling U.S. athletes not to protest during the #WinterOlympics:
Behar: "She’s being maternal, I think. Nancy is 'Mom-ala.' She always like 'I think about the children. It’s for the children.' She cares about the kids." pic.twitter.com/pLjl4w2QJm
— John Cooper (@thejcoop) February 4, 2022
And over on ESPN, an analyst asked, “Who are we to criticize China” when Republicans are trying to suppress Black voters.
ESPN guest downplays China’s human rights violations because USA has ‘assaults’ on voting rights https://t.co/5W0J08Kjzr
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) February 6, 2022
China may love it, but clearly, American viewers do not.
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