By Mary Cunningham

Nothing succeeds like excess.

Especially in the parallel universe of Olympics business models.

The Tokyo Olympics attracted the smallest audience since NBCUniversal began covering the Summer Games in 1988 — an average of 15.5 million viewers for its prime-time broadcast and digital presentations each night

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Absence of spectators played a part, I suppose, and the 13-hour time diff to the East coast.

The final audience number was down 42 percent from the 2016 Summer Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro, which averaged 26.7 million viewers. It was less than half that of the 2012 London Games, which drew an average of 31.1 million.

But the Tokyo Games, which were delayed a year during the pandemic, were still profitable for NBCUniversal. Ad sales exceeded $1.2 billion, the company said, although it has offered some free ad space to companies disappointed by the viewership. It also noted that its coverage dominated TV viewership during the Olympics’ run and, reflecting an increased focus on digital coverage, was popular on social media and streaming platforms, such as NBCUniversal’s year-old Peacock service.

The media giant paid more than $1 billion for the exclusive rights to cover the Tokyo Games in the United States, part of a deal for Olympics coverage through 2032. It said 150 million Americans had watched its Tokyo coverage.