World Championship Highlights Draw Fewer Than 200,000 Viewers On NBC

A highlight package of pool swimming at the 2022 FINA World Championships drew fewer than 200,000 viewers on NBC on Sunday, according to Show Buzz Daily.

The event was available for viewing across NBC’s streaming platform, Peacock, throughout the duration of the event (June 18-25), and was also available on the Olympic Channel.

Upon the conclusion of the competition in Budapest, NBC featured a highlights package on its main network at 12 pm E.T. on Sunday, June 26.

The package failed to crack 200K viewers, which is the minimum requirement to be listed on Show Buzz Daily.

The event was followed by the final round of the LPGA Women’s PGA Championship, which drew approximately 849,000 viewers.

None of the daily airings on The Olympic Channel had over 200,000 viewers either.

The U.S. Track & Field Championships, for example, picked up over 1,000,000 viewers in perhaps a more favorable timeslot (4 p.m.) on Saturday and Sunday, though that was live coverage compared to the compressed highlight package that swimming received.

Other sports outside of the primary ones (football, basketball, baseball, motor sports, golf, college baseball and soccer) that outdrew swimming included major league rugby (281,000) and the Westminster Dog Show (450,000 on Wednesday, 282,000 on Tuesday).

Failing to reach 200,000 viewers is a downturn compared to some recent television ratings for swimming.

In early April, a highlights package of the Pro Swim Series meet in Mission Viejo drew 537,000 viewers on NBC, while the International Swimming League’s network television debut in October 2020 on CBS picked up 381,000 viewers.

The numbers pale in comparison to the juggernaut that is the U.S. Olympic Trials, however, which averaged 2.7 million nightly viewers on NBC last year. Of course, the Olympic Trials receive daily primetime coverage on the main NBC network, which gives it a huge boost.

Having the daily finals on The Olympic Channel relative to NBC has a significant impact on viewership, as NBC is available to approximately 277 million households in the U.S., compared to 35 million for the Olympic Channel.

The time difference in the World Championships could’ve played a part in a relative lack of interest from American viewers, who, for the most part, would’ve been asleep during the preliminary heats (3 am E.T.) and at work during finals (12 p.m. ET).

The U.S. team set an all-time record by winning 45 medals at the championships, blowing past their previous total of 38 set in 2017.

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 month ago

The meet was on Peacock. Not everyone has Peacock. Plus who wants to listen the RG ramble on.

1 month ago

Well, if the network doesn’t bother promoting something, then people won’t even know it’s on. *eyeroll* The coverage for Paralympic swimming is garbage too. And the IPC should add OW events for para swimmers. THAT would be cool.

Reply to  Bennie
1 month ago

Club swim head coach here – I coach some pretty committed/high level swimmers. It ASTOUNDED me how many of my older and younger kids had no idea world champs were even taking place. It was not advertised well in the US outside of the niche swim community that follows everything on swim swam and some of the high level swimmers’ social medias. It’s really disappointing.

Reply to  Coach
1 month ago

It all comes back to what I try to explain to the “yeah I’m sure a million people would have watched if Caeleb just told us why he was sick” people.

It’s not the actual sports that draws the big audiences. It’s the buildup, it’s the narratives, it’s the inbetweens, it’s the dramas, it’s the “giving the people a reason to care” that drives big audiences to sports.

That’s why ESPN covers the NFL and NBA all year round, not just during their playing seasons.

Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

100% agree. And sex of course… sex sells. And that makes it all the more baffling that swimming, a sport where everyone runs around half naked all the time, manages to be so incredibly boring. It should be prime time sexy click bait all over the place. But the kumbaya “we all love each other” vibe is just a massive turn-off for mainstream audiences.
People want a soap opera where Kyle is losing his shit Kanye-style over his ex holding hands with a popstar and a diss track by Cody in return… and throwback ’80s West vs East finger-wagging, guitar smashing relay rivalry.
That is what gets people invested. And by the time the actual swim comes around,… Read more »

1 month ago

All I can say is, THANK GOD I WAS IN ITALY.
RAI/SPORT delivered full coverage from 6 pm to 8 pm nightly —- it was great!

Masters Swimmer
1 month ago

In the U.K., not one second broadcast on TV channels. I watched heats live on Allaquatics on my phone – couldnt get stream to work on TV. Enjoyed all the finals live on BBC iPlayer….. but it would have been much better if everything had just been streamed live in one place, ideally on YouTube

1 month ago

I honestly don’t understand why FINA doesn’t just stream swim events live on youtube with a really good pair of commentators (from Australia please… not America). At worst you get a lot more views from swim fans in other time zones who don’t have to get up in the middle of the night thanks to it. And at best you garner a lot of views from people who’ve never watched swimming and might get hooked.
Jumping through hoops to watch the sport we love is getting really old.

1 month ago

Why would I watch a highlights event? I watched all the finals on Peacock and all of them are available for replay anytime I want.

1 month ago

Showing an hour from 16 hrs of semi and finals sessions after the meet was over and people knew the results definitely was not going to generate any interest either in the hard core fans or the casual fan. Ratings for every sport (and every program for that matter) are at an all time low.

Georgia Rambler
Reply to  Comet
1 month ago

Plus noon on Sunday was not a primo time. And swimming events are rarely listed in the Sports Section TV guide of the AJC Constitution, not to mention swimming news.

Go Kamminga Go
1 month ago

Rowdy screaming and making unintelligible noises didn’t help to attract viewers.

Reply to  Go Kamminga Go
1 month ago

Yeah, I’m sure that’s the reason. 🙄

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

Read More »