The Gist: Although ratings waned as the Winter Olympics wore on, young audiences showed strong viewership for NBC.

A few days have passed since the closing ceremony, so as promised, we took a look at how much of the U.S. population over age 13 followed the PyeongChang Winter Games with some consistency this year.

38% of the U.S. pop followed along closely. This was shy of what people said they intended to do pre-Olympics (52% said they intended to follow). But we all intend to do more than we actually end up doing, right?

We also told you to expect younger viewership of the Winter Olympics this time around, and with that one, we weren’t completely wrong. Other sources report that younger viewership has declined since Sochi, but our data shows that of those who watched the Olympics this year, they were more likely to be younger. 

Teens = Very Close Olympic Viewership

18-34-year-olds are more likely to say they followed along with the games in Pyeongchang ‘very closely.’  Also of big note in this group, though, are teens under 18. The ‘very closely’ bunch is less than half as likely to have graduated from high school, because, well, they are still in it.

The ‘very closely’ viewers are also 3x more likely than the general population to go to the movies at least once a month and of course, 3x more likely than general population to use Snapchat actively.

These younger Olympic fans who followed along ‘very closely’ are also avid sports fans, being 2x more likely than the general population to be fans of the NBA, MLB and even college football. For fans of the NHL and NFL, though, they didn’t turn out to be the avid viewer of the games in Pyeongchang, rather, they were in the ‘somewhat closely’ group.

The ‘very closely’ folks are also more likely to be women, and more than twice as likely to be organic food buyers. And, in line with a surprising recent post about VR getting people out of the house, those who want or already own a virtual reality product are more likely to say they were following the winter games very closely.  

Influenced by Social Media

As we hypothesized in our earlier post on Olympic viewing intent, social media may be the driver of the younger group tuning in for the winter games. This group is much more influenced by what they see on social than the general population on all fronts. They are more than twice as likely to follow the Winter Olympics very closely if they:

  • choose music based on social media influence
  • choose food items based on social media influence
  • choose personal electronics based on social media influence

This seems to fit the mold, or gut instinct, of young athletes’ social media presence bringing in viewers.

Owned by the Smartphone

The graphic below should speak for itself, comparing those who watched the Olympics on their phone with how closely people followed the winter games. NBC live-streamed all parts of the games for the first time ever, available to watch on any device. This seems to have made it all the more possible to tune in.

We’ll be interested to see if a larger number of younger people watch the games, and on their phone, when the next summer Olympics rolls around. We’ll let you know the story.