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The Winter Olympics Are Back, and Sports Fans in Europe and the U.S. Are Ready to Watch

Fans plan to watch more than 2018 games, with figure skating, alpine skiing as top draws.

The Winter Olympics in Beijing open this week and, according to a new survey from global consulting firm Altman Solon, sports fans are eager to watch them again. The survey, which measured interest in the 2022 games for sports fans in the U.K., U.S., France, Germany, and Italy, found that 40-60% of global sports fans play to watch the games. In addition, 30% in all the European countries surveyed say they plan to watch more than they did in 2018.

Women more excited than men for Olympics in U.K.

France had the highest level of interest in the Winter games of any nation surveyed, while Italy had the lowest. Women’s interest outpaced that of men in four of five countries, with the most pronounced gender split seen in the U.K. and U.S.


Sports fans plan to watch more Olympic content

In all the countries surveyed, a greater percentage of fans report they expect to watch more of the 2022 Olympics compared to 2018 than those who plan to watch less. At least 40% of respondents in Germany, Italy, and France are planning on watching more than they watched prior games, with Italy showing the strongest increase.


While sports fans in all countries share a strong interest in the games, the platforms they use to consume Olympic content varies from Europe to the U.S. The most popular TV / video platforms used to watch the Winter Olympics among interested respondents are free-to-air TV, traditional pay TV service, and free streaming. At least half of the respondents in the UK, Germany, Italy, and France, plan to watch on free-to-air TV, while 52% of respondents interested in the Olympics in the U.S. plan to watch on traditional pay TV.

Unlike in the U.S., where NBCUniversal is the sole rights holder, rights in the U.K. are shared between the BBC and Discovery. Discovery is betting on the ability to watch the games anytime/anywhere will pay dividends for the European audiences given the time zone differences. Similarly, BBC coverage will be shared across BBC1 and BBC2 and supplemented by a live digital stream on BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website.


“In order to increase returns on their investments and enhance the audience experience across the vast amount of available content, both the BBC and Discovery are making solid commitments to making the content widely available across multiple services,” says Ian Lube, Partner at Altman Solon. “They are also integrating new technologies in their coverage – including extended and virtual reality – all to the advantage of UK sports fans”.