NBC Airs Most-Watched Summer Games Opening Ceremony on Record

Categories: 1-Featured,Network TV Press Releases,TV Sports Ratings & News

Written By

July 28th, 2012

via press release:


40.7 Million Average Viewers Tops Atlanta Opening Ceremony; Nearly 6 Million More than Beijing; and 15 Million More than Athens, the Last European Olympics

21.0/37 National Rating 12% Higher than Beijing and 44% Higher than Athens; is Best for Any Non-U.S. Summer Olympics Ever

Highest-Rated Friday Night on Any Network in a Decade

LONDON – July 28, 2012 – In the more than 50 years of televised Olympics, NBC’s coverage of the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympics (8 p.m. – 12:02 a.m. ET/PT) is the MOST-WATCHED for a Summer Games on record with 40.7 million average viewers, topping the Atlanta Games (39.8 million). Last night’s viewership is nearly six million more than the 2008 Beijing Olympics (34.9 million) and 15 million more than the 2004 Athens Olympics (25.4 million), the last European Olympics.NBC SPORTS GROUP CHAIRMAN MARK LAZARUS: “This audience number for the London Opening Ceremony is a great early sign that our strategy of driving people to watch NBC in primetime is working. We look forward to the next 16 nights of compelling Olympic competition.”

The Opening Ceremony on NBC earned a 21.0/37 national rating/share, the best for a non-U.S. Summer Olympics ever, and the second best for a non-U.S. Games (Summer or Winter) in 36 years – since Innsbruck in 1976 (23.2/37).

  • Last night’s Opening Ceremony national rating of 21.0/37 is 12 percent higher than Beijing in 2008 (18.8/34) and 44 percent higher than Athens in 2004 (14.6/27).
  • The 21.7 rating for last night was the highest-rated Friday night on any network since the Opening Ceremony of the Salt Lake City Games (25.2 on Feb. 8, 2002).


1. London2012 40.7 Million NBC
2. Atlanta – 1996 39.8 Million NBC
3. Beijing - 2008 34.9 Million NBC
4. Sydney – 2000 27.3 Million NBC
5. Athens – 2004 25.4 Million NBC
6. Seoul – 1988 22.7 Million NBC
7. Barcelona – 1992 21.6 Million NBC


1. London – 2012 21.0/37 NBC
2. Beijing – 2008 18.8/34 NBC
3. Rome – 1960 18.1/36 CBS
4. Sydney – 2000 16.2/29 NBC
5. Seoul – 1988 15.2/29 NBC
6. Athens – 2004 14.6/27 NBC
7. Barcelona – 1992 13.8/29 NBC
8. Montreal – 1976 11.1/39 ABC
9. Mexico City - 1968 8.8/34 ABC
10. Munich – 1972 6.5/28 ABC
11. Tokyo – 1964 5.6/14 ABC


1. San Diego 27.8/49
T2. Washington D.C. 26.8/48
T2. West Palm Beach 26.8/48
4. Salt Lake City 26.6/50
5. Denver 26.4/51
6. Norfolk 26.3/42
7. Sacramento 25.4/47
T8. Kansas City 25.0/44
T8. Richmond 25.0/41
10. Columbus 24.9/43
T11. Boston 24.8/45
T11. Indianapolis 24.8/45
13. Seattle 24.4/48
14. Los Angeles 24.2/44
15. Atlanta 24.1/39
T16. Philadelphia 24.0/40
T16. Jacksonville 24.0/39
T18. Austin 23.9/44
T18. Ft. Myers 23.9/43
20. Portland 23.8/48

Jim Bell served as executive producer of NBC's Opening Ceremony coverage; Bucky Gunts, director; Molly Solomon and Joe Gesue producers.

NBCUniversal, presenting its 13th Olympics, the most by any U.S. media company, will make an unprecedented 5,535 hours of the 2012 London Olympics coverage available across NBC, NBC Sports Network, MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo, Telemundo, NBCOlympics.com, two specialty channels, and the first-ever 3D platform, an unprecedented level that surpasses the coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics by nearly 2,000 hours.

For the full schedule of NBCUniversal’s Olympic coverage, please go to: NBCOlympics.com



  • Jon23812

    Can you get international ratings, or only the US ratings?

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    @Jon: our focus here is US data and it’s all we have good access to. Ratings in UK are easily obtainable via Google search. Not sure about other countries and I doubt you’ll see any type of international rollup anywhere, at least not until the games are over.

  • Jon23812

    @Robert, Okay. Thanks.

  • Daw Johnson

    Glad to see Nikki Finke again exposed as a clueless hack.

    Clearly, this notion that NBC has no clue how to broadcast the Olympics and that Americans were FURIOUS the ceremony wasn’t airing live was a ridiculous one.

  • Rob

    In the UK it averaged 23m with a 83% share. Peaked at 27 million. We have a population of just over 60 million, so by any measure it was huge!

  • Stefan

    Total viewers: 7.66 million, Share: 43,5%
    14-49: 2,27, 32,5%
    20-59: 3,39, 34,7%

  • Leslie Charteris

    Top10+ things NBC screwed up

    10. Repeated derision and backhand compliments of any country not named the United States
    9. The repeated reliance on mentioning how war-torn various nations are or have been instead of mentioning their athletes
    8. Commenting on North Korea by mocking Kim Jong-Il’s alleged 11-holes-in-one golf game after they have already caused a delay in competition after percieved political slights
    7. Four-hour tape delay in the social-media era
    6. Spoiling the cauldron lighting
    5. Inserting Idi Amin into conversation as Uganda was marching
    4. Speculating that the Maldives can fight rising sea levels by winning medals
    3. Giving zero camera time to Barbados and Ukraine
    2. Cutting of the athletes’, coaches’ and judges’ oaths
    1. Cutting of the London bombing memorial segment for a Michael Phelps interview

    Dishonorable mentions:
    * Referring to San Marino as “sort of an island”
    * Going to commercial in the middle of a segment
    *Stated speculation that Greece will never host the Olympics again
    *Referring to Borat as Kazakhstan marched
    *Making the Djibouti joke during a major world cultural event
    *Spoiling the industrial-era and National Health Service segments right as they were beginning
    *Making a big deal over the lack of a minute of silence for the victims of Munich
    *Repeated mangling of countries’ names
    *Making reference to the Falklands War as Argentina marched
    *24 commercial breaks

  • peter


    Total viewers: 8.65 million, Share: 56,9% (5 hour window that includes pre-coverage)

    Without pre-coverage:
    Total viewers: 11.4 million, Share: 57%

    15-24: 63% (share)
    Men: 57%
    4-14: 56%
    Women under 50 (that’s the most important demographic in France, it’s like the A18-49 in the US): 53%

  • YoFray Ray

    Hey Leslie Charteris, STOP SPAMMING EVERY ARTICLE WITH YOUR CRAP! Nobody cares!

  • Bobby Socks

    Lauer and Viera would not SHUT UP! I didn’t need a play-by-play on EVERYTHING. This wasn’t the Macy’s parade. I wanted to watch the spectacle and HEAR the music. Lauer had the audacity to say how good the cover was of “Come Together” as he talked over the song!

  • Ryan Stoppable

    @Leslie Charteris: I’m sure a pessimist would be able to nitpick any hours-long broadcast.

    @Rob: That’s more viewers per capita than watched the last Super Bowl. Wow.

  • Debsafan

    I watched it, but thought it was very dull, and had a very hard time staying awake. Couldn’t even make it to watch Paul and was looking forward to that. Oh well.

  • Talent Level

    Mark Lazarus is already doing a better job than Dick Ebersol he needs to keep up the good work.

  • Talent Level

    @ Daw Johnson

    So NBC who runs a business making money is going to run a huge event like the Opening Ceremonies live during daytime just to satisfy you guys when you can watch it on tape delay in prime time like everybody else will. You guys got to remember not everybody is home during the day like you guys are. Stop being so selfish.

  • J-Boy

    Yawn!! The only reason the ratings are high is because there is ABSOLUTELY nothing else good on TV. Period!!

  • FlorinDobri

    In Spain the opening ceremony had 5.656.000/46,1% share( the highest rating since Barcelona 1992). And I heard on news that world wide the ceremony was watched by over 1 billion people.

  • CrimTV

    Did anyone else notice during the segment with the old and new music and tv shows that Modern Family was shown when Claire said “guys get off your gadgets” or something, I immediately shouted MODERN FAMILY!

  • Paulo PT

    Huge numbers! i’m impressed with this ratings…

    Portugal 9.8% or 927.000viewers 24%share a very tight race between all 3 major networks in primetime. i believe the cerimony only wins the last half hour.

    Argentina 5.7% HH rating
    Brazil 8% HH rating (São Paulo region. preliminary ratings. in the same time slot Globo 24 points, 3 times more)

  • danielcw

    @Daw Johnson:
    Which Nikki Finke piece are you referring to?
    I think she would be really great, even one of the best, if she would remove her personal bias from her stories. She is great at collecting (good network/contacts?) and presenting facts, imho.

    @peter, Paulo PT, FlorinDobri:
    could you tell me your sources?
    If they are sites, that regularly report ratings, can you tell me if the sites are good in your opinion?

    @Stefan: I assume your source is DWDL.de, right?

  • bg

    It was a boring and dull Opening Ceremony…Sir Paul MaCartney’s performance was terrible….There were a few bright moments…

    Instead of Sir Paul, they had many other good choices to fill the bill…He just needs to retire…

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