The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games proved to be a huge success for sports broadcasters, as the BBC reported ‘record breaking’ viewing figures for the event.

BBC Sport’s coverage – conducted across multiple verticals – saw the public service broadcaster receive 104 million requests to watch Tokyo 2020 online, exceeding the 74.4 million requests during Rio 2016.

Coverage on BBC Radio 5 Live on BBC Sounds also experienced success with 1.7 million listeners, whilst an additional 27.5 million sports fans relied on the BBC Sport website for Tokyo 2020 news and analysis, with 41.3 million requesting highlights clips. 

The most watched event was the men’s 100m final with five million viewers, followed by the 4.5 million who tuned in to watch the women’s event. A further 2.6 million viewed Max Whitlock’s men’s pommel victory and 3.4 million watched Bradley Sinden’s silver medal-winning performance in the 68kg taekwondo final.

Of the various iconic moments from the games, the most requested online events were Lauren William’s gold-medal bout in the 67kg taekwondo final at 2.5 million and Charlotte Dujardin’s bronze-winning dressage final – which saw her claim her fifth Olympic medal – at 2.4 million.

“We’re incredibly proud to have shone a light on some of the most remarkable stories to come out of Tokyo 2020,” said Barbara Slater, Director of BBC Sport. 

“Delivering a record-breaking Games in the midst of a pandemic is a testament to the BBC Sport production teams in Salford, as well as the power of sport in bringing people together.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, NBC revealed that a total of 3.5 billion minutes of Tokyo Olympics content was consumed across the outlet’s, NBC Sports app and Peacock verticals, with the network adding that it expected coverage on its NBC Sports Digital channel to surpass Rio 2016 figures.

Additionally, NBC found that the total consumption on the final day of the games outpaced that of both the hugely popular March Madness basketball series and the monthly viewership of monthly film and television subscription service Netflix

This translated to over 100 billion minutes of Tokyo Olympics content was consumed across NBCUniversal’s television, digital and social platforms alone last Wednesday night, whilst interest in the games also peaked on Twitter, with the number of daily tweets concerning the Olympics increasing by 852%.

Despite these positive findings towards the conclusion of the games, NBC experienced difficulties with maintaining strong viewing figures throughout the tournament, with the broadcaster’s average nightly audience declining by 42%.

This reportedly prompted NBC to enter into discussions with ‘anxious advertisers’ in order to compensate for the decline in viewers, and the network allegedly does not expect to make a profit from the Summer Games.

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