The Olympics on TikTok is Changing This Year’s Experience for Viewers and Athletes

By Editorial Staff

The Olympics on TikTok brought spectators together to root for their favorite athletes and light to life in the Olympic Village. Unlike previous year’s Olympics, which were watched either in the stands or on television, this year’s majority of followers were on social media platforms like TikTok.

As the TikTok craze continues to surge, Olympic Game administrators may have to consider promoting more highlights and clips for competitions to help gain traction and viewership for the games altogether. 

Streaming Services and Television

Television Viewership on the Decline 

Time zones posed a huge challenge for The Tokyo 2020 Olympics as the opening ceremony garnered a staggering 16.9 million US TV viewers – the lowest viewership in 33 years. Viewership also declined significantly across Europe. According to Reuters, only 769,000 viewers watched on one of France’s three public channels.

In comparison to the Rio 2016 and London 2012 Olympic opening ceremonies, viewership was down by 36 percent from 2016 and 58 percent from 2012. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics wasn’t necessarily a flop as these statistics are based on television viewership. 

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Streaming and YouTube

YouTube and streaming platforms have kept the Tokyo Olympics relevant in international news. Youtube also made a huge impact on how the Olympics were viewed as YouTube live-streamed ceremonies and posted clips and highlights of unforgettable moments during the games. 

One example of YouTube’s spotlight in the Olympics would have to be a dramatic but heartwarming act of sportsmanship between Mutaz Barshim of Qatar and Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy when they both received gold medals. 

During the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, “YouTube viewers watched over 200 million hours of Olympic Games content on YouTube” which was seven times the amount of hours watched on YouTube back in Rio. 

Throughout the games, NBC held broadcasting rights in the United States, so posting clips on social media were often taken down for copyright unless they were posted from official and approved accounts. Because of this setback, viewers resorted to watching the Olympics on Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming service.

Peacock was met with criticism for its shaky service throughout the Olympics. The opening ceremony wasn’t steamed, though it was streamed on the NBC Olympics website, according to The Verge. Peacock is a free streaming service – to some extent – but if you wanted to watch men’s basketball, you needed a premium account.

So yes, you could watch the Olympics, but some events required you to purchase premium, which is simply not accessible for some viewers that wanted the watch the entirety of the games. 

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TikTok and the Olympics

Highlights and Content on TikTok

In retrospect, the Olympics on TikTok seized a younger audience that television and cable simply couldn’t do. The Washington Post states that TikTok harbored about 27 million daily users in the United States on Android devices from July 23rd to 27th while YouTube had 67 million active users.

However, TikTok’s daily users grew by 3.6 percent while YouTube grew by 1.8 percent. As of August, TikTok still reigns supreme on the Top Charts for Free Apps on the Apple App Store while YouTube claims the number two spot. So, while YouTube beat TikTok in terms of active users, TikTok is exponentially growing and refuses to slow down.

NBCSports, PeacockTV, Olympics, and NBC Olympics

A vast majority of the Olympic Game content on TikTok was taken down, so the Olympics on TikTok was dominated by professional accounts like:

An NBC spokesman said that “Although copyright violations do occur, they are routinely stopped quickly and the infringing viewership is small compared to the billions of streaming minutes that will be legitimately consumed.”

The @Olympics account posted clips like thank you videos, highlights, edited clips, and memes. 

One memorable clip would have to be Simone Biles’s return after taking a break for mental health reasons. Simone Biles still performed with grace and elegance and received a bronze medal in the balance beam event in spite of viewer backlash for her decision to take a break. Surely this is a true act of determination and dedication. 


The Queen is back. 👑 🐐 #OlympicSpirit #Gymnastics #SimoneBiles

♬ in heat X brooklynbloodpop – EMBRR 🇵🇸

On @PeacockTV, Snoop Dog and Kevin Hart also gave their two cents on some highlights in the artistic swimming competition. Both of them were not only in awe but also impressed by the swimmer’s grace and athleticism.


Blessing your fyp with @snoopdogg and @imkevinhart breaking down artistic swimming 😂 #TokyoOlympics #Olympics #SnoopDogg #KevinHart #Swim

♬ original sound – Peacock

Japan and China in table tennis doubles was a thrill for any spectator, especially during one particular highlight from @NBCSports. The speed and intensity of the ball and movements by the athletes made this TikTok a jaw-dropping clip.


DOUBLES TABLE TENNIS IS ELECTRIC. ⚡️ #tabletennis #tokyoolympics #olympics #olympian

♬ original sound – NBC Sports

The Olympics on TikTok would not be complete without Kenny Chase singing about the things she can finally do now that the Olympics are over – except she still can’t eat what she wants. You can thank @NBCOlympics for this great TikTok. 


@kennychase25 is done competing in rowing at the #TokyoOlympics and this is how she’s celebrating ⬆️

♬ original sound – NBC Olympics & Paralympics

Instagram and TikTok are very different platforms, but both are great for promoting your content. You can learn the benefits of each platform and key differences in this blog.

Behind the Scenes in the Olympic Village

Television and streaming services were unmatched with TikTok’s exclusive behind-the-scenes content from the athletes themselves. Videos from athletes like the cardboard box bed testing and COVID-19 protocols during mealtime went viral because they gave insight into life in the Olympic village.

Likewise, every other form of media and platform was unable to capture the essence of these athletes, which helped users connect to their role models. Rooting for one’s country wouldn’t feel the same if the representing athletes felt one-dimensional and superior to the typical citizen, so humanizing these athletes helped attract followers.

While not every athlete had a great experience with the cardboard beds, here’s a clip of Ilona Maher, an American rugby player, and her fellow athletes testing out the beds by doing various activities.


Testing out the cardboard beds at the Olympic Village #beastbeautybrains #olympics #cardboardbeds #tokyoolympics #usarugby #japan #athletes #rugger

♬ original sound – Ilona Maher

Kelsey Robinson, an American volleyball player at the Olympics, also posted exclusive content of the volleyball venue before practicing. 


Olympic volleyball arena first look 😍 #fypシ #tokyo2020 #olympicspirit #volleyball #teamusa #usavolleyball

♬ Fly – Marshmello

Tilly Kearns, an Olympic water polo player, showed her audience how the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is staying safe with strict COVID-19 protocols at the village dining halls.


Olympic dining hall COVID protocols #olympicspirit #tokyoolympics #olympics #australia what else do you want to see??

♬ Say So (Instrumental Version) [Originally Performed by Doja Cat] – Elliot Van Coup

There are dozens of TikTok videos giving an insider perspective of life in the Olympic Village from Kelsey Robinson’s typical training day in the village to Cody Melphy doing his laundry, and the ones listed above are just a few viral ones.

Using social media platforms like TikTok is an excellent way to promote your brands and grow your fanbase. Learn more about how to promote your bands on social media here.

This article was written by Brianna Borik

Want to work with influencers and even athletes on social media campaigns? Get started with us today!

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