Summer Olympics: 

 Viewership and Search Trends

The Summer 2021 Olympics have been full of amazing performances from around the world. In our previous research, we found that the unlikely sport of Gymnastics became the most-searched sport across Roku devices, with soccer, and track, rounding out the top three.  

As we went into the second week of the Olympics, we wanted to understand how audiences were watching, so we dug into Roku data to highlight more Olympian trends.

Here's what we found: 

Viewership Dipped in Week 2

  • Based on data from Roku devices, we observe that reach on Olympics-carrying channels decreased by 15%, while hours viewed decreased by 8%. Data excludes viewing from vMVPDs such as Sling TV.*
  • Compared to the week prior to the Olympics, though, viewership of these channels increased, with a 17% increasein reach and 22% more hours of viewing time.

 * Reflects viewership deduped across NBC & NBC Sports. Dates adjusted to reflect Eastern Time.

Female Athletes Take Home the Gold... in Roku Search  

  • Based on searches on Roku devices, gymnast Simone Biles is the most-searched athlete of the 2020 Games. During the Olympics, she was ranked #157 in Roku searches – the next highest-ranking athlete (Katie Ledecky) is ranked #6149.
  • Comparing the two weeks before the Games to the two weeks of Olympic competition, searches for:
    • Katie Ledecky (swimmer) up 533%
    • Simone Biles up 142%
    • Megan Rapinoe (soccer) up 87%
  • On the day that Biles made her return to compete in the women’s balance beam final, searches for Biles on Roku devices increased 101% from the day prior

Olympics on Traditional

Linear TV

Comparing the two weeks before the Games to the two weeks of Olympic competition:

  • Based on traditional linear TV viewing on a Roku device, we estimate that total traditional linear TV reach was flat, while hours viewed increased by about 4%
  • On traditional linear TV channels carrying the Olympics (NBC, CNBC, NBCSN, USA), reach increased by approximately 8% and hours viewed went up by about 109%. 

Here’s how that breaks down on individual channels:

  • NBC – reach increased about 15% and hours viewed went up about 147%
  • CNBC – reach increased about 7% and hours viewed went up about 19%
  • NBCSN – reach increased about 33% and hours went up about 104%
  • USA – reach increased about 19% and hours viewed went up about 17%
  • Channels that saw a decline in traditional linear TV reach during this time include: a post-NBA Finals ABC (reach down 12%, hours viewed down 20%), ESPN (reach down 16%, hours viewed down 27%), and ESPN2 (reach down 19%, hours viewed down 23%), suggesting that viewers were getting their sports fix elsewhere

Top reaching events and advertisers on traditional linear TV during week 2 of the Games:

  • Top-reaching programs from Week 2 of competition:
    • 8/1 - Beach Volleyball, Gymnastics, Track and Field
    • 8/2 - Beach Volleyball, Track and Field, Gymnastics
    • 8/3 - Men's Diving, Track and Field, Gymnastics
    • 8/4 - Beach Volleyball, Track and Field, Women's Diving
    • Of the top 10 most-viewed events over the Games’ first two weeks, nine have included Gymnastics
  • Top-reaching advertisers during most-viewed event of Week 2 (8/1’s Beach Volleyball, Gymnastics, Track and Field):
    • Google
    • Comcast
    • Visa
    • Macy’s
    • Geico

TV Streamers Younger, Affluent

  • Compared to traditional linear TV audiences, TV streaming viewers are 10% more likely to be A18-49 and 26% more likely to have household income (HHI) $250K+
  • Traditional linear TV viewers are 20% more likely than TV streaming viewers to be A65+, 14% more likely to have HHI <$15K
  • 84% of Olympics-streaming households on Roku contain someone A18-49


Viewing Duration & Session Length 

During primetime of the Games’ first week of coverage:

  • For those watching the games on traditional linear TV via Roku devices, the average viewer tuned in 3.8 times/day for an average of 17.8 minutes and an average of 67.1 minutes viewed each day.
    • For comparison, the Super Bowl saw a per viewer average of 12.7 sessions of 9.7 minutes
  • As observed on Roku devices, the average TV streamer of Olympics-carrying channels tuned in 2.2 times/day for an average of 34.1 minutes and an average of 72.3 minutes viewed per day.

Want to learn how Roku can help you reach your audience? Contact us to learn more.