One of the defining features of millennials is that they have better opinions than the generations who came before them. More precisely, those born between 1982 and 2000 are uniquely adept at discerning when something that many people believe to be good is actually, objectively, very bad indeed. Studies have consistently shown that millennials are more likely to have the right opinions about such empirically bad things as Donald Trump, Budweiser, marriage, and finance capitalism.
And now NBC’s past two weeks of prime-time ratings reveal that millennials are also right about the Olympics. Bloomberg reports that among 18- to- 49-year-olds, prime-time broadcast viewership of the Olympic Games declined by roughly 25 percent compared to four years ago. That drop can be attributed, in part, to the higher concentration of millennials in that age bracket.
“Sports is less ingrained in the younger demographic,” Brandon Ross, an analyst at BTIG Research, told Bloomberg. “It has been replaced by other things like video games and e-sports and Snapchat feeds.”
In other words, millennials’ mastery of technology has made them disproportionately aware that the Olympics are, in truth, boring and lame. (There’s no question that there was once a time when these Games were worth watching. For example, before the advent of the automobile revealed how truly slow even the fastest humans are, it must have been thrilling to watch an athletic man run at full speed.)
This is not to suggest that many individuals within older generations haven’t also come to appreciate that the Olympics are a dull spectacle built off the exploited labor of unpaid athletes and impoverished construction workers. Across all demographics, viewership fell by 17 percent. This surprising decline forced NBC to give ad buyers free commercial time to provide them with their contractually guaranteed share of eyeballs.
To be sure, millennials do not always have the right opinions. The generation is demonstrably wrong about baseball, which is a sport that appears to be boring but is actually a very good way of forgetting the sadness of all your life’s failures, by focusing on the sadness of the failures of a group of millionaires with excellent hand-eye coordination.