Fully a fifth of Norway’s population stayed up well past midnight on Wednesday to watch their Norwegian chess hero win his third World Chess Championship in a row. Ratings numbers released for Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK’s) live coverage alone showed that a total of 764,000 viewers watched the championship action from start to finish.
“That’s a huge number,” said Kristian Tolonen, analysis chief for NRK. He said the state broadcaster’s live coverage from New York attracted an average of 300,000 viewers every night, with several of the broadcasts extending until the wee small hours of the next morning. NRK’s coverage also came in addition to that on other media outlets and online.
“There have probably been quite a few tired Norwegians these past few weeks,” Tolonen joked, noting how the vast majority had to go to school and work the next day.
NRK was jubilant over the ratings, which indicate huge and growing interest in chess in Norway. Tolonen said the numbers “are beginning to resemble winter sports ratings in the course of Saturdays and Sundays. And here we’re talking about really late-night viewing.”