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



  • Harry Davis

    I loved the segment of James Bond and QE 2. The queen said GOOD MORNING MR. BOND. Pure classism. Ha ha ha.

  • RG 3 vs Luck

    Yeah I liked it too Harry Davis, it seems like that was the most memorable moment from the Opening Ceremonies.

  • Patrick G.

    Guess these ratings show we still have a lot of interest in our Motherland ! I wish we were still part of the UK. The Queen would kick Congress’ ass and make our Presidents more honest. And National Health Care!! Long Live the Monarchy ;)

  • ukhazard

    Hey, I moved to the US to get away from those overpaid tourist attractions. :p

  • Daw Johnson

    @Talent Level

    You do realize you’re agreeing with me? My whole point here was that Nikki Finke’s notion that people hate having to watch the Olympics on tape delay is a silly one.

    Clearly, based on these record ratings, people are fine with watching the Olympics stuff in primetime.

  • PinoyTvCritic

    NBC haters are just unreasonable!

    NBC won’t make money and obviously won’t be able to air another Olympics if they have opted to air the events and opening ceremony live —- that is on Daytime.

    It’s just reasonable for the network to delay it to air the opening in primetime.NBC has also provided platforms for you people who have no work to watch Olympics live like online and several apps.

    NBC haters are just sometimes to unreasonable.

  • Elizabeth

    I personally watched all of it, and really enjoyed it! More than any other Opening Ceremony I’ve seen since 1976. The Queen and Daniel Craig were marvelous! Of course my Great Grandmother was English, but still, the show pleased me! And Paul was great!!! And NBC is showing all the events on the computer live, plus coverage on local NBC affiliate, Bravo and MSNBC. Amazing number of hours this year! I did try to watch BBC TV online, and they said they weren’t available here. Does anybody know if we could subscribe to them? Nice to hear the NBC Olympics music…was it by John Williams? It’s been around. And I remember KathyLee Gifford and her husband reporting late night….I think they were in Europe….could that have been CBS?? Kudos to NBC!

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