The first contemporary international Olympic Games took place 120 years ago. The competitors were amateurs, the fields were rugged, and the rules were impressionable. Though technology, athletes, and resources have evolved, the mission is still the same: Every four years the world comes together for 16 days to support professional athletes and their endeavors to collect medals for their home country. However, in this day and age wouldn’t you think it’s time the Olympics enters the digital world?

Even though we can get news and results from various sources, watching it live is still the most exciting and rewarding way to engage with the games and your country. In the United States, NBC is the only commercial network that has the licensed right to stream the Olympics, but only selected events were broadcasted. People who were interested in the other events needed to go online to NBC’s website or use the app to watch them, but a cable subscription is required. For those who don’t have a cable subscription, it is nearly impossible to watch live streamings.

This year’s games in Rio, NBC averaged 27.9 million viewers for the first nine nights. Though it may seem significant, it’s actually a 15.5% overall drop and a 30% drop among viewers age 18-34. Why is this happening?


Graph from: Emily Steele and Bill Marsh. “Why Watch TV Online?” The New York Times. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Aug. 2016

Well, most people don’t watch “live” TV, at least not in the conventional sense. According to a study done by The New York Times on media consumption, viewers ages 18 to 34 commonly report they use streaming sites to catch up on missed scheduled episodes. This is due to the fact that we are often out and about during peak TV-viewing hours; therefore, miss out on traditional “live” broadcasting.


Graph from: Emily Steele and Bill Marsh. “How People without Cable Get Their TV Programming*.” The New York Times. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Aug. 2016

Don’t confuse this notion with the idea that we don’t want live TV—we definitely do, but we want the opportunity and freedom to watch television without a TV. Cable is still the dominant mode of TV delivery for all age groups, but for young adults ages 18 to 34, nearly a fifth of them don’t subscribe to cable services and are content with connecting their TV to the internet or using antennas for broadcast.

With so many viewing opportunities available, who could blame us for shifting our streaming interests?

When you watch Simone Biles in women’s vault, it makes you want to (and believe you can do) a handspring, double aerial off of your couch. Then explain to your cat why you didn’t land it…and then remind yourself that you don’t owe your cat any explanations. People want to bring live television with them wherever they go, whenever they go. For us it’s about mobility, and socializing with others while Snapchatting, Tweeting, status-updating, and Instagramming about the games.

In essence, we don’t want to spend time and money on a television subscription, when we can rarely allot time to remaining stationary, watching TV. People are stealthy and undetected—quickly abandoning the TV landscape and dismissing what was once known as “Prime Time.” We look to YouTube, Facebook, Hulu, Amazon Prime, really anywhere online for live streaming capabilities.

The Olympic Games unite all people and build bridges between all cultures. To spread this idea, people should have easy access to live streamings of the games. Perhaps someday you will find NBC’s monopoly on the Olympics released, and media like YouTube, Facebook, Hulu, and Amazon Prime capable of live streaming.


(And well, because this doesn’t get old, here’s our favorite Olympic shot of Michael Phelps)

Works Cited:

Flint, Joe, and Suzanne Vranica. “NBC’s Ratings for Rio Olympics Fall Behind London.” The Wall Street Journal (n.d.): n. pag. 14 Aug. 2016. Web. 19 Aug. 2016.

Lynch, Jason. “How Millennials Consume TV Depends on Which Stage of Life They’re In Nielsen Report Examines the Demo’s Viewing Habits.” Adweek (n.d.): n. page. 24 Mar.     2016. Web. 19 Aug. 2016.

Steele, Emily, and Bill Marsh. “Millennials and Cutting the Cord.” The New York Times. N.p., 3 Oct. 2015. Web. 19 Aug. 2016.