Advanced Television

Survey: More viewers to watch Winter Olympics via highlights

January 25, 2022

Ahead of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, GWI, an audience insights company, surveyed a total of 10,266 consumers. Aged 16-64 across nine markets (UK, US, France, Germany, Italy, India, Brazil, Japan and China).

The research, which used a mixture of GWI Zeitgeist from this month and GWI Sports datasets, revealed:

  1. Appetite for the Winter Olympics is high
  • Out of the 186 sporting events, the Winter Olympics comes in second place for interest, beaten only by its summer equivalent.
  • Interest among the older generations is high, with 56 per cent of baby boomers being interested in the Winter Olympics, however interest drops off among younger people and is lowest among Gen Z.
  • Nearly 2 in 3 are in support of having the Beijing Winter Olympics take place this year, despite difficulties with Covid, and some countries choosing to boycott the event.
  1. Extreme sports will secure the viewers of the future
  • Percentage who are interested in following/watching these Winter Olympic sports (top 10): Figure Skating (32 per cent), Speed Skating (28 per cent), Ski Jumping (26 per cent), Snowboarding (25 per cent), Ice Hockey (24 per cent), Freestyle Skiing (24 per cent), Short Track Speed Skating (22 per cent), Alpine Skiing (19 per cent), Cross-country Skiing (15 per cent), Curling (14 per cent)

Stephanie Harlow, Trends Analyst, GWI comments: “The Winter Olympics might usually be synonymous with skiing or ice hockey but our research reveals figure skating comes out on top, with a third (32 per cent) of consumers planning to follow the sport this year. However, there is a notable generational divide at play here. We can see Gen X and baby boomers are really driving this interest up, while it tapers off among younger generations – with only a quarter of Gen Z audiences expressing interest in figure skating. Overall, while fewer millennials and Gen Zers are interested in the Winter Olympics in general, it looks like extreme sports will secure the viewers of the future, as snowboarding is the top sport Gen Zers are planning to follow during the Games. There’s a real opportunity for marketers to tap into the Winter Olympics, but to do this, they need to get a deeper understanding of their audience. Specifically, insight into not only sporting preferences but how specific audiences are watching sports, which sports they’re most engaged in, and what it all might mean for the future.”

  1. Live TV is king, but the Winter Olympics is all about the highlights
  • The number who plan to follow the Winter Olympics through athletes and network accounts on social media is down 56 per cent and 42 per cent respectively compared to the Summer Olympics last year.

Below lists the ways to watch and corresponding  per cent difference between Beijing Winter Olympics vs. Tokyo Summer Olympics

  • Watch highlights on TV: +10 per cent
  • Stream highlights online: +8 per cent
  • Watch live events on TV: -5 per cent
  • Read news/articles about the games: -6 per cent
  • Stream live events online: -32 per cent
  • Follow network accounts on social media (e.g. NBC/BBC/Eurosport): -42 per cent
  • Follow athletes on social media: -56 per cent

Harlow added: “While live TV is the top way followers will tune-in to the Winter Games, fewer will be watching the live events compared to the Summer Olympics. More followers will be catching up via TV and online highlights than during the Summer Games, making the Winter Olympics more about catch-up viewing than live viewing. We will no doubt see publishers putting an extra focus on their catch-up packages and getting the word out there, as these are tipped to be popular among viewers globally.”

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