EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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February 18, 2014

Fewer watching Winter Olympics

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.

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