The results are in, the medals have been awarded -- and Comcast (CMCSA 0.38%) isn't in the winner's circle today.
Instead, as of 12:15 p.m. ET Wednesday, shares of the cable giant and NBC parent company are down 4.1% after The Wall Street Journal reported that the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing delivered the "lowest ... ratings ever" for NBC.
Eight years ago, NBC bid $7.75 billion to win the rights to broadcast all Olympic games in the U.S. through 2032, but that bet hasn't been paying off for Comcast lately.
The 2020 Tokyo games, delayed to 2021 because of COVID-19, delivered a "historically low TV audience" for NBC -- just 15.5 million prime time viewers per day on average, according to Nielsen, making them the "least-watched Olympics ever for NBC," as the Los Angeles Times reported last year.
Make that the least watched Olympics until one year later, though, because as The Wall Street Journal just reported, viewership of the 2022 Beijing games was even worse. "Viewership dropped 42% from 2018," reports the Journal -- with just 11.4 million prime time viewers per day tuning in this year.
And to extend this story even further, the Journal notes that the 2018 Pyeongchang games, in turn, were also the worst-rated games ever up till that point. That's at least three Olympics in a row in which -- in a world where the global population only goes up -- the number of people watching the Olympics only went down.
I have to say that this does not sound like good news for Comcast. While fans of the company may point out that COVID-19 depressed enthusiasm for the last two Olympic games, the fact that viewership in 2018 was also down suggests that there's a bigger trend at work here, and that owning the rights to broadcast Olympics coverage just isn't as big of a prize as it once was.