Viewership on CBC Gem the big winner for another Olympics

While TV ratings dipped slightly, again, CBC was still the most-watched network for nearly all of the Games' 16 days.

More people turned to CBC’s streaming and digital platforms to watch the Winter Olympics this year. And while that may be coming at the expense of TV viewership, the Games still helped the network beat most of the competition in the ratings.

Canadians watched 4.6 million hours of Olympic coverage on CBC Gem, up 19% from Tokyo last summer, which itself had a big boost from the previous games. Despite the time difference of the games in Beijing, live viewing made up 64% of video views.

Across all digital platforms, 7.8 million hours of Olympic content was consumed over the course of the Games. While that is 11% more than the last Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, it is less than the 17 million hours of content consumed during the Tokyo Olympics last summer. CBC also expanded its Indigenous language coverage of the Games, offering the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as three hockey games, in Eastern Cree, and all men’s and women’s hockey games in Inuktitut – the content earned a total of 226,850 video views.

On TV, CBC says it had 26.5 million unique viewers watch at least some of its Olympic coverage, according to Numeris.

While that is down slightly from the 28 million unique viewers for Tokyo and 31 million from PyeongChang, CBC still achieved a number of important audience milestones. It had the highest all-day audience share among English networks for both 2+ and 25 to 54 year old audiences for all 16 days of the Games, and was the most-watched network for 15 of 16 days among 2+ audiences and 12 for 25 to 54 year olds. It was also the highest-ranked primetime network for every day except for Feb. 13, – when it competed with the Super Bowl – with audiences watching an average of 102 minutes each night.

The peak audience for the Games came on Feb. 16, when 2.7 million people watched the gold medal game between Canada and the U.S. in women’s hockey. Other high points were 1.839 million watching the women’s freestyle skiing big air final on Feb. 3, 1.81 million watching the Canada/U.S. men’s curling match on Feb. 12 and 1.81 million watching the team figure skating pairs event on Feb. 6.

Those peaks, however, are well behind Tokyo, which hit 4.4 million viewers for the women’s soccer team’s gold medal game against Sweden and 3.12 million watched Penny Oleksiak become the most decorated Canadian Olympian. The peak audience in PyeongChang was 5.7 million.

It should be noted that audience comparisons to past Olympics can always be tricky, as different time zones affect when events are broadcast live and the lineup of events can have a major impact on viewership habits.

Outside of the main broadcasts, CBC also grew its social coverage of the games. The CBC Sports TikTok account doubled its follower count by the time the Olympics were done, earning 20 million video views, which is up 160% compared to Tokyo.