Canadians watched 2016 Olympics in record numbers

Aug 23 2016, 6:53 pm

Canada watched the Rio 2016 Olympics in record numbers, with 32.1 million Canadians watching on CBC (English) and Radio-Canada (French). That’s a new record for a Summer Olympics.

“The best athletes from Canada and around the world inspired us day after day in Rio and it was our privilege to share these moments of triumph and heartbreak with so many Canadians,” said CBC Sports executive director Greg Stremlaw.

A number of factors contributed to improved numbers. These Olympics were always going to benefit from Rio’s time zone, which is just one hour ahead of the eastern time zone in North America. That meant that viewers were able to enjoy Olympics coverage without having to adjust their sleeping schedules. The last time we enjoyed a Summer Olympics in the Americas was 1996 in Atlanta.

Also the first time since Atlanta: Canada set a record for medals won at a non-boycotted Summer Olympics.

Canada’s performance certainly helped. They not only won medals, but they won medals early and often – nine consecutive days to start the Games.

It’s interesting to note that while CBC saw record numbers, NBC in the United States did not, blaming millennials for shortfalls. The Americans had an excellent Olympics too, winning more medals than they’ve ever won at a non-boycotted Games since 1904.

Unlike CBC, the time zone was largely inconsequential as NBC likes to package tape-delayed programming for its viewers. Maybe that’s something for them to think about next time that the Olympics are in a viewer-friendly time zone.

CBC, as is customary in this country, focused on live coverage. While some of the play-by-play could have been more well polished – some CBC broadcasters called the Games from a studio in Toronto, while other times they picked up an international feed for less popular sports – the coverage by hosts Ron MacLean, Scott Russell, David Amber, and Andi Petrillo was exceptional.

CBC’s main network Rio 2016 coverage was the top-ranked programming in morning, daytime, primetime and Pacific primetime among age 18-49 and 25-54 demographics.

The average full day audience for CBC’s Rio 2016 English-language television broadcasts (1.271M, main network only) increased by 11% over London 2012 (1.146M, main network only).

In primetime, the average audience (2.315M, main network only) increased by 23% over London (1.879M, main network only).

These numbers don’t take into account the people that watched coverage on four all-sports channels (two from TSN, two from Sportsnet). It also does not take into account the amount of people that watched online.

Here are the most-watched moments each day:

  • August 5: 3.1 million viewers – Team Canada enters the stadium during the Opening Ceremony
  • August 6: 2.7 million viewers – Canada wins bronze in the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay
  • August 7: 3.4 million viewers – Penny Oleksiak wins the silver medal in the women’s 100m butterfly
  • August 8: 3.4 million viewers – Women’s 100m breaststroke final
  • August 9: 3.7 million viewers – Michael Phelps wins gold in the men’s 200m butterfly
  • August 10: 3.6 million viewers – Santo Condorelli swims in the 100m freestyle final
  • August 11: 4.3 million viewers – Penny Oleksiak wins gold in the women’s 200m freestyle
  • August 12: 3.8 million viewers – Women’s 800m freestyle final
  • August 13: 4.8 million viewers – Canada competes in the women’s 4x100m medley relay
  • August 14: 6.9 million viewers – Usain Bolt wins gold and Andre De Grasse wins bronze in the men’s 100m
  • August 15: 3.5 million viewers – Men’s pole vault final
  • August 16: 3.6 million viewers – Derek Drouin wins gold in men’s high jump
  • August 17: 4.5 million viewers – De Grasse challenges Bolt in the men’s 200m semifinals
  • August 18: 7.2 million viewers – Bolt wins gold and De Grasse wins silver in the men’s 200m
  • August 19: 5.3 million viewers – Bolt completes the “triple-triple” by winning gold with Jamaica’s men’s 4 x 100m relay team
  • August 20: 3.3 million viewers – Melissa Bishop finishes just off the podium in the women’s 800m
  • August 21: 4.0 million viewers – Tokyo 2020 offers a preview during the Rio 2016 Closing Ceremony