(Bloomberg) -- NBC’s viewership for the Olympics opening ceremony fell sharply, an early sign of the challenges the network faces in attracting a large audience during a pandemic amid a shift in viewing habits.
On Friday, the opening ceremony in Tokyo drew about 17 million viewers, including people who streamed the event on NBC’s digital platforms. That was down about 36% from the opening ceremony in Rio in 2016, which attracted about 26.5 million people.
The Olympics opening ceremony began Friday at 7 a.m. Eastern time, or 8 p.m. local time in Tokyo. NBC later re-aired the ceremony at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time, with a special focus on Team USA. The NBC Sports app and NBCOlympics.com also streamed the taped, primetime version of the broadcast.
On Saturday, NBC saw some viewership gains, with its morning cable coverage up 24% from the corresponding day in Rio, according to NBC.
In addition, NBC’s streaming service, Peacock, recorded its most-watched Saturday. So far, viewers have streamed 21% more minutes of the Tokyo Olympics than they did the Rio games in 2016.
Like the other Olympic events this year, the opening ceremony was quieter, taking place inside a mostly empty venue after Olympics organizers banned most spectators due to rising Covid-19 cases in Tokyo.
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