Here Are the 11 Olympic Sports That Viewers Are Most Excited About Watching

Mindshare data shows the big draws

If you wanted to watch every Olympic event being carried across the NBC universe, it would take 281 days. That's because the networks and digital platforms of NBCUniversal are carrying an unprecedented 6,755 hours of programming from the Summer Games in Rio.

And while events from archery to wrestling will get airtime, there are only an elite few Olympic sports that are true viewership draws.

Mindshare found that 75 percent of the 1,034 adults it polled planned to watch the Rio Games. That's not quite Super Bowl-level viewership, but "it ranks higher than the Oscars and the Emmys," said Mindshare's head of insights, Mark Potts. "It is a unifying event. It appeals to almost everybody."

Mindshare exclusively provided a portion of its survey to Adweek, the part about which sports people are most likely to watch. 

  • 88 percent will watch gymnastics
  • 87 percent will watch swimming
  • 81 percent will watch other water sports (diving, rowing, etc.)
  • 81 percent will watch track and field (declining to 75 percent for women and rising to 85 percent for men)
  • 73 percent will watch volleyball (79 percent of men)
  • 72 percent will watch basketball (80 percent of men)
  • 69 percent for soccer (77 percent of men) 
  • 67 percent for tennis (72 percent of men) 
  • 61 percent for combat sports (just 49 percent of women)
  • 57 percent for weightlifting (69 percent of men)
  • 53 percent for rugby (65 percent of men)

Here is the full schedule of every sport during 2016 Olympics.

For brands looking to market to those viewers, Potts said, "There is a desire from young viewers for extra content." In fact, 56 percent of viewers between the ages of 18 and 34 say they would like to see behind-the-scenes stories on athletes and teams. "Clearly, there are lots of ways to communicate in front of the Olympics," Potts said. "They remain a very important marketing opportunity."

In terms of how they'll view Olympics coverage, 88 percent plan to watch it on TV, while 23 percent will stream it live on desktop computers. "Viewers tell us they will be watching while at work," Potts said. "Consumption is increasing. Media is pervasive in our lives wherever we are."

In 2012, 217 million Americans watched some of the London Games, making it the most-watched event in U.S. TV history. NBC is very interested in making sure the games in Rio are an even bigger TV draw.

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