If it seems like no one really cares about the Olympics anymore, you might be right.
The Olympics used to be inescapable. Every channel you watched, every billboard you walked by, every commercial on the radio would bombard you with the upcoming events, often reminding people months in advance.
But that’s no longer the case.
Over the years, the Olympics have lost so much of their popularity that I have yet to even see one ad on social media telling me to tune in on Friday.
One of the major reasons for the media silence could be because millennials (who have recently surpassed baby boomers as the largest living generation), just aren’t watching.
Look at the 2016 Rio Olympics, for example. The opening ceremony was viewed by 26 million people, a whopping 28 per cent decrease from the previous event in London.
To compare, the 11-minute Kylie Jenner birth announcement video has been watched over 35 million times in two days, with the view count still climbing by the hour.
Maybe because it was free, short, scandalous, and accessible on every social media platform.
Screenshot of Kylie Jenner's birth announcement as of February 6 2018 (via youtube).
And not only are people watching different things, they’re also not showing up to the events. A 60,000-seat soccer stadium was built to accommodate the Rio Olympics, but only a few hundred people showed up to watch the games, which is Brazil’s national sport.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has tried to encourage younger viewership in the past with no such luck.
At the 1998 Nagano Olympics, snowboarding was added for the first time. But many people protested the addition, and certain athletes were almost disqualified after finding trace amounts of marijuana in their bodies. So the debut didn’t exactly go according to plan.
And in 2016, more than $200 million was spent on social media advertising to try to attract millennials to the Rio games with no such luck, despite it having the strongest online media presence of any Olympics to date.
An ad on the Toronto subway which I originally thought was for the Korean Olympics, but upon further investigation I realized it was actually for a new Samsung store in the Eaton Center.
Perhaps one of the main reasons millennials aren’t watching the games is because we simply aren’t watching television.
Nearly half of millennials say they prefer to watch TV episodes after they’ve aired, by using online streaming platforms such as Netflix. It seems that the IOC has noticed this, and urges youth to livestream the games from its website. However, this is yet another marketing scheme gone wrong, because after 30 minutes, the viewer is then forced to pay for an NBC subscription if they don’t have one already.
And with 33 per cent of millennials saying that worrying about credit card debt is greater than the fear of death, this generation probably won’t be reaching into their wallets to watch figure skating when the Pyeongchang Olympics begin this Friday.
Screenshot via cnbc.com.