Andover’s Aparna Qazi has watched a few Olympic events, here and there, over the past week and a half. But generally speaking, the games aren’t her version of “must-see TV.”
“I watched the opening ceremony. It was so boring,” the 25 year-old said. “It was like (watching) a history book or play. Some of the graphics and audio visual stuff were cool but the whole thing was way too long and it didn’t seem like a lot of people were there.”
And when it comes to the sports themselves, Qazi also doesn’t find a lot of enticing things to watch either.
“Some of the Winter Olympics sports, like curling, are random,” she said.
She’s hardly alone. Fewer Americans in general are watching these Winter Olympics than in years past.
Saturday night’s prime-time telecast was seen by 17.1 million viewers, the smallest audience so far and smaller than any night of the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 — on a night of almost no original network programming.
The comparable Saturday in Vancouver had 26.7 million viewers, and the Turin Games in 2006 had 19.7 million.
Through Sunday, the Sochi Olympics have mustered a 6.1 rating in the 18-to-49 age demographic, which is a 14 percent decline from Vancouver. The Olympics have averaged 23.2 million viewers in prime time, down 11 percent from Vancouver.
And when it comes to benchmark of societal interest — social media — locals say the Olympics are also coming up short.
“I haven’t had a single conversation with friends about the Olympics,” said 20-year-old Diane Le of North Andover.
Qazi also said she hasn’t seen many people tweeting about the games.
“I think it is losing it’s popularity,” she said. “People don’t talk about it as much. You hardly see it on social media posts.”
While many people point to the time difference — games are played 9 to 12 hours before we see them — as the reason so few seem to follow the Olympics, others say there are other factors driving the decline in viewership.
“The winter sports aren’t even fun, nor are they enticing to watch,” Le said. “Maybe it’s also the fact that the Winter Olympics weeks happen when school is in session which also results in less interest among people.”
She said she enjoys the summer Olympics much more.
“During the summer, there’s more time and less to do. Not to mention (the summer Olympics) actually has sports that are fun to watch, mainly women’s gymnastics. But Winter Olympics — who has time for that?” Le said.
There are some people who are watching the games — Debbie Frio of Andover is among them. She’s making time to tune into the Olympics, but she has some hurdles to overcome.
“I’ve been watching some snow boarding, skating and skiing. I found that the best way to watch it is with a DVR. No commercials, fluff stories — nothing but action,” she said.
However, Frio says leaks can sometimes ruin the outcome of the games.
“That’s why I watch them live if I can. Last week ABC news blew the outcome of Shaun White’s event that I was planning on watching. I didn’t bother watching it knowing the outcome. I like the Olympics when they are in our time zone,” she said.
However, for her favorite sport — hockey — nothing can keep her away.
“I’ve been watching the hockey for the last two days. Shootouts are awesome, and I decided I’ll watch any hockey game as long as Doc Emrick is doing the play by play,” Frio said.
Why Olympic hockey? The athleticism is great, especially for the women’s team, she said.
“They are very impressive to watch,” Frio said. “And also the lack of fighting, compared to the pros.”
Athleticism is also what draws winter sports fan Matt Carlile to watching the games.
“The things some of these athletes can do is amazing,” he said. “It’s inspiring.”
The 55-year-old from Lawrence says the Winter Olympics are his favorites.
“I think it is the most enjoyable to watch,” he said. “I love hockey, skating, skiing. I love all of it.”
Material from the Associated Press was used in this story.
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