The Winter Olympics vs. the NBA All-Star Game: A Head-to-Head TV Audience Comparison

The 2018 Winter Olympics may be dominating television at the moment, but of course the Olympics aren’t the only game in town. To put the scale of the Olympics audience in context, we decided to take a side-by-side look at how the NBA just performed with the All-Star Game from Sunday.

Data from Inscape, the TV measurement company with glass-level data from a panel of more than 7.7 million smart TVs and devices, reveals that overall the Olympics have, on average, garnered more viewership — the broad appeal of the Games and the extensive telecasting by NBC and its sister networks makes that inevitable — but the NBA definitely held its own.

Also of note is the overlap between All-Star viewers and the games — or better said, the lack of overlap: less than half of the people who watched the All-Star game also watched the Olympics (either in other time slots or by timeshifting).

Things get even more interesting when you look at a heatmap of viewership across the U.S. All-Star vs. Olympics viewers are located in very different areas. (The darker the color in our graphic, the more people were tuning in, with the baseline normalized by each state’s population.)

We also turned to Canvs, the emotion measurement company, to look at viewer emotions during both TV events as expressed on Twitter.

Love won out during the All-Star game, appearing in 21.6% of Emotional Reactions (ERs), but there was a sizable amount of hate (15.6%) floating around the Twittersphere as well.

Fergie and her controversial rendition of the National Anthem dominated the conversation, inspiring 15.3% of emotionally charged comments — more than any other moment, and even overshadowing LeBron James. Fergie was mentioned in 62.3% of all hate reactions, with fans expressing that she was the “worst,” “disrespectful” and “terrible.”

Viewer emotionality around the Olympics has been more positive in general, with 29.7% of comments talking about love, followed by enjoyment (13.6%), congrats (6.9%) and crazy (6.5%). While Shaun White has been the most-mentioned athlete of the Games so far, occuring in 5.2% of ERs, much of the conversation has been driven by the Games themselves, with terms like “olympic,” “gold,” “team” and “figure skating” leading.