Magic Monday? Not according to the ratings…

Great Britain have had their most successful start to an Olympic Games ever, but is anybody watching?


Following the highs and unfortunate lows (for England fans at least) of Euro 2020, the Tokyo Olympics are providing a further sporting fix for the nation to feast on. With a greater variety of sporting action on offer, and with the home nations being united in their efforts, the Olympics arguably offers a more inclusive spectacle that should draw in greater audiences. Especially when you consider the success of the British team to date in securing their greatest ever start to a modern Olympics.


Time zone differences mean that record viewing figures were never going to be a reality, but there must be some disappointment amongst the broadcasters over the UK’s engagement with the games. The Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London peaked at 27.3m, and whilst Tokyo was never going to compare to this, a peak audience of just 2.3m (-92% vs. 2012) on BBC1 has to be considered a disappointment.


On top of the time zone difference, the rapid decline in linear TV viewing over the past decade should also be taken into account. However, the final of Euro 2020 proved that when an event captures the public’s imagination, all bets are off. Viewing peaked at 31.2m across both BBC1 and ITV for England vs. Italy – a 1,257% increase on the Opening Ceremony of Tokyo 2020.  For further context, the Opening Ceremony barely registered more viewers than the opening games of The Hundred, cricket’s new format aimed at attracting younger viewers and families to the sport. Boosted by being broadcast on BBC2, the opening Women’s game peaked at 1.6m and the opening Men’s game at 2m.


But what about the makeup of these audiences? Is the Olympics truly a more inclusive viewing experience than football, particularly for younger and family audiences? Children (4-15) made up over 12% of the Euro 2020 final’s peak audience despite occurring at 22:45 at night. The Olympics Opening Ceremony was hamstrung by starting at midday meaning that the peak came at 13:10 when most children would have been in school. Yet despite this c.8% of the total audience were children.


Starting at a more child friendly 18:00 on Friday evening however, the Men’s opening game of the Hundred was over 14% children (4-15) at 18:20, although admittedly this only equated to c.65,000 children’s impacts (not too dissimilar to an episode of Peppa Pig on Milkshake). What is perhaps most interesting about The Hundred however is its overt commercialisation despite being on a channel which doesn’t carry advertising. Each team is sponsored by a different crisps brand (Hula Hoops, Skips and Pom Bears amongst others) which would not usually have such ready access to a children’s audience on Linear TV due to HFSS restrictions. A clever, albeit likely expensive, means of circumventing these restrictions.


So what does all this mean for advertisers? Primarily, football still endures as the nation’s most popular sport amongst a diverse fanbase, and the volume of games shown across Linear and Digital platforms means that there are cost effective means for advertisers of all sizes to access these audiences. However football still has justification for the high cost per spot for those that can afford it, especially with spots in the final reportedly being sold for upwards of £500k per 30 seconds. From experience we know these spots work – the more astute of you out there may have seen the furry yellow friend of one of our largest entertainment clients make an appearance in the England vs. Scotland clash! Beyond that, always be on the lookout for smart ways to incorporate your brand into events outside of standard spot advertising. Sponsorship is a fantastic means of achieving this, but more cost effective solutions such as perimeter advertising (especially in the Digital age) do exist. And this is all without touching on the continued growth and mainstream popularity of e-sports across both Linear and Digital platforms! To find out more about how sports can work for your brand get in touch today.