NBC's First Night of Olympic Competition is Most-Watched Summer Opening Night on Record with 28.7 Million Viewer Average

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

Written By

July 29th, 2012

via press release:


28.7 Million Average Viewers Tops First Night from Atlanta by More Than 2 Million Viewers; Nearly 5 Million More than Beijing; and Nearly 9 Million More than Athens, the Last European Olympics

NBC’s two-day primetime average of 35.6 million viewers is the best start to a Summer Olympics on record

15.8/29 National Rating for First Night of Competition is 14% Higher than Beijing and 34% Higher than Athens; Best for Any Non-U.S. Summer Olympics Ever

NBC’s Daytime and Late Night Rating and Viewership Enjoy Significant Gains

LONDON – July 29, 2012 – The first night of competition from the London Olympics (8:30-11:28 p.m. ET/PT) is the MOST-WATCHED for a Summer Games opening night on record, with 28.7 million average viewers, topping the first night of competition from the 1996 Atlanta Games by more than two million viewers (26.3 million). Last night’s viewership is nearly five million more than the first night of the 2008 Beijing Olympics (24.0 million), and nearly nine million more than the first night of the 2004 Athens Olympics (19.8 million), the last European Olympics.

NBC’s two-day primetime average of 35.6 million viewers is the best start to a Summer Olympics on record, more than two million more than Atlanta (33.3 million), and more than six million more viewers than Beijing (29.5 million).

Last night’s competition on NBC, which featured the first duel between Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps, earned a 15.8/29 national rating/share, the best for a non-U.S. Summer Olympics opening night in 36 years since Montreal Olympics. The rating is 14 percent higher than the first night of the Beijing Olympics (13.9/27), which featured live coverage of Phelps’ first of his eight gold medals.

  • Last night’s national rating of 15.8/29 is also 34 percent higher than the first night of competition in Athens in 2004 (11.8/23), the last European Olympics.


1. London2012 28.7 Million NBC
2. Atlanta – 1996 26.3 Million NBC
3. Beijing – 2008 24.0 Million NBC
4. Seoul – 1988 23.8 Million NBC
5. Barcelona – 1992 21.6 Million NBC
6. Sydney – 2000 21.0 Million NBC
7. Athens – 2004 19.8 Million NBC


  • 9:46 a.m.-Noon ET/PT averaged 12.3 million viewers, an increase of 56% over the first Saturday morning at the Beijing Games (7.9 million from 10 a.m.-Noon). The household rating in this time period (7.9/22) is 49% higher than the comparable morning from Beijing (5.3/16).
  • The Noon-6 p.m. ET/PT window drew 14.9 million viewers and a household rating of 9.3/23, an increase of 20% and 19%, respectively vs. Beijing Games.
  • The early-morning window (5-9:46 a.m. ET/PT) drew 5.1 million viewers and had a household rating of 3.6/16. There is no comparable coverage for this time period in previous Games.
  • The late night program (12:30-1:18 a.m. ET/PT) drew 7.4 million viewers and a household rating of 4.9/15, an increase of 35% and 29%, respectively.


1. Salt Lake City 23.9/46
2. San Diego 22.8/43
3. Kansas City 22.4/42
4. Columbus 21.5/39
5. Ft. Myers 21.3/40
6. Milwaukee 20.6/38
7. Denver 20.5/44
8. Indianapolis 20.4/39
9. Sacramento 20.2/41
10. Nashville 19.6/34
11. Oklahoma City 19.2/32
12. St. Louis 18.9/35
13. Richmond 18.7/33
14. Portland 18.5/41
T15. San Francisco 18.4/40
T15. Boston 18.4/36
T17. Norfolk 18.3/30
T17. Albuquerque 18.3/34
T17. Jacksonville 18.3/31
20. Phoenix 18.1/32

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.


  • Desperate Houseboy

    and tonight 4×100 NBC will be 3rd network this season.

  • westcoast88

    NBC will use this news to justify its overly-produced time-delayed Olympics broadcasts of annoyingly-edited packages designed to keep viewers in front of their TVs waiting to see the events they want from beginning to end.

  • Eric Z

    I was shocked they showed the swim events in order as they occurred. I expected the Phelps/Lochte letdown race (which was first live) to be shown last on NBC between 11 and midnight.

  • cc

    Nbc needs to quit patting themselves on the back so much, and start showing what the viewers want to see in a timely manner, without their edited version.

    They’re spending more time blocking out people’s negative opinions.

  • Nadine

    Terrible sports coverage. We should be ashamed. In England, where my husband came from, there are multiple channels covering all events, in their entirety, with very little commentary and no embarrassing rooting. I wonder if people realize how much they are missing. Also, notice, there is zero, zilch, nada coverage of events or whole sports in which there is little US presence. And those commentators! They never, never shut up.

  • Nadine

    I’m trying to figure out what the top 20 cities list means? Does it really mean that in America’s population centers (ie, NY, LA, Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston) people aren’t as interested?

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    Nadine: ratings are percentages, so on a PERCENTAGE basis of total homes, yes. But on a total homes basis, no. i.e., <18% of New York homes still = a number much bigger than 23% of Salt Lake City homes.

  • Parker

    Obviously everyone here is unaware that every event can be seen LIVE on NBC’s Olympics site (and iPad/phone apps) and many events are live on the NBC networks as well.

  • Tony

    You’re in the 21st century act like it, watch it online if you have such a big problem with tape delays.

  • PinoyTvCritic

    many here are just NBC haters who seems to always find fault on NBC. Aren’t they aware that NBC has already provided platforms for them to watch the games LIVE?

    Of course, NBC had to delay to place the coverage on primetime! Duh? if they won’t delay it…then the games will be on afternoon? So what they’ll gonna show on primetime?

    NBC haters!!!

  • Anthony

    You’re in the 21st century act like it, watch it online if you have such a big problem with tape delays.

    Well said.

  • Nadine

    Me I don’t have a problem with delays; I keep up with ESPN. I have a problem with the stingy spotty nature of all the coverage andd the awful chatter, chatter, chatter.

  • SarahL

    You’re in the 21st century act like it, watch it online if you have such a big problem with tape delays.

    So true. I am so tired about the whinging about not seeing the events live.

  • USAmerica1st

    @Tony You get a 10. I’m watching a spirited Czech vs Mauritius women’s beach volleyball match as I type this. You won’t see that on NBC tonight.

  • Rob

    Curious that New York, LA and Chicago aren’t among the top-20 markets in terms of ratings. Also, although 1996 has the 2nd largest audience after this year’s Olympics the US population back then was about 50 million less than what it is today. If NBC ranked by rating the ’96 Games would probably be on top.

  • bob

    PLEASE! Get rid of your “Butch” for late night coverage.

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