Public viewership is changing for large, global events as consumer media engagement evolves. An average of 12.8 million viewers tuned into Peacock, USA Network, and NBC’s Olympic coverage on Friday, February 4th – 15 million fewer viewers than in PyeongChang four years ago. Although the primetime event remains the most-watched broadcast on television, viewership is evolving globally, and networks are taking notice. What does this spell out for the future of broadcasting?

NBC is broadcasting the opening and closing Olympic ceremonies in in virtual reality (VR). Those with VR headsets, such as Meta’s Quest 2, can watch 180 degree views of the ceremonies, numerous events, features and highlights from the games. The broadcast relies on an 8K video feed, equivalent to the quality of a high-end TV, and aims to elevate viewer experience by making audiences feel as if they are at the events themselves.

Beijing opted for a small screen broadcast partner in the short video and live-streaming platform Kuaishou. With more than a billion app downloads, Kuaishou aims to reach viewers where they are: their phones. The partnership reflects a shift to snackable, short-format content and could change how viewers access mass broadcast content.

Alibaba launched Beijing Winter Olympics-themed non-fungible tokens (NFTs) at the start of the games in February. The ecommerce giant created virtual badges reimagining speed skating, freestyle skiing, figure skating and other events presented in a traditional Chinese ink painting style. The badges are available for Chinese residents aged 14 and up, and can be purchased via the Alibaba marketplaces Taobao and Tmall from February 5th to 20th. The success of these themed NFT drops indicates viewers are gravitating to bits of events that they can keep, own, and enjoy long-term.

New media engagement is picking up where traditional broadcasting has left off, attracting viewers individually with new technological reach.

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