CBC gives a peek at how Olympic ratings are doing so far

The Opening Ceremonies drew fewer TV viewers compared to the Rio Games, but viewership on the broadcaster's digital and streaming platforms has shot up.

CBC has released ratings for the opening weekend of the Tokyo Olympics, and the broadcaster has seen major engagement through its online offerings.

On the TV side, the Opening Ceremonies for this year’s Summer Games drew a max audience of 1.361 million shortly after 8:30 p.m. and an average audience of over 1 million, down significantly from the 2016 Summer Games in Rio, which drew 4.4 million viewers.

It should be noted, however, that time differences are more of a factor than they were with Rio – CBC aired the Tokyo opening ceremonies in primetime, roughly 12 hours after they occurred in Tokyo at 7 a.m. EST, giving viewers a full day to have seen the moments from the ceremonies through digital channels.

For the events themselves, primetime broadcasts drew an average audience of 1.112 million on Saturday and 1.325 million on Sunday (by comparison, the average full-day audience for the entirety of the Rio Games was 1.27 million). CBC has not yet released full-day ratings for the first days of the Games, but described daytime viewing as “strong,” with an average audience 10 times higher than a typical weekend.

Swimming events, in particular, have proven to be popular with Canadian TV viewers so far. The most-watched events during the first three days of the Games were the women’s freestyle relay (1.918 million), the women’s 100m backstroke (2.2 million) and Maggie Mac Neil’s Gold medal performance in the women’s 100m butterfly (2.3 million).

While it is unclear whether or not TV audiences will meet the record-setting bar set in Rio, CBC’s digital and streaming platforms have gotten a huge boost, with over 8.4 million video views since the beginning of the Games. While that may be, in part, due to the time difference, with on-demand offerings helping people see highlights of events that happened while they were sleeping, it may also signal a shift in viewing habits: views are up 65% so far over Pyeongchang 2018, which dealt with a similar time delay.

The most-watched live broadcast online so far was one of the Olympics’ new events for 2020 – women’s street skateboarding – with swimmer Penny Oleksiak’s record-breaking Silver medal win the most watched on-demand.