Olympics Ratings Roundup: NBC, BBC Take Home Ratings Gold During Opening Weekend
Compiled by Jason Dachman, Managing Editor, SVG
Despite a steady stream of Tweeted complaints regarding NBC’s tape-delayed Olympics coverage thus far, NBC Sports Group is off to a record ratings pace through the first weekend of competition. Through the first three nights of the London Olympics, NBC is averaging 35.8 million viewers, the best through the first weekend for any Summer Olympics in history (since the 1960 Rome Olympics, the first televised Olympics). The audience is 1.4 million more than the 1996 Atlanta Olympics (34.4 million) and five million more viewers than 2008 Beijing Olympics (30.6 million).
NBC’s coverage of the Opening Ceremony on Friday night was the most watched for a Summer Games on record with 40.7 million average viewers, topping the Atlanta Games (39.8 million). Friday’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. 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). The rating was also up 12% from Beijing in 2008 (18.8/34) and 44% 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).
NBC carried the momentum through Saturday night, as the network notched the most watched opening night for a Summer Games 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). Saturday 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. The night 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 and up 14% from Beijing (13.9/27) and up 34% from Athens (11.8/23),
Sunday night’s primetime coverage on NBC drew 36.0 million viewers, the most for the first Sunday of a non-U.S. Summer Games in history. Sunday night’s viewership is more than three million more than the first Sunday night in Beijing (32.3 million), and 10 million more than the first night of the Athens Olympics (25.8 million). The average viewership for Opening Ceremony (40.7 million) and Sunday night (36.0 million) is higher than ANY night from the Beijing, Athens or Sydney games. Sunday night earned a 19.8/33 national rating/share, the best for the first Sunday for a non-U.S. Summer Olympics in history. The rating is up up 9% from Beijing and up 29% from Athens…
…Of course, NBC is not the only network enjoying ratings gold during the Olympics opening weekend. In the host country, BBC1’s coverage of the Opening Ceremony earned an audience share of more than 50% on Friday, the network’s best all-day figure for at least a decade. BBC1 had a 52.7% share of the audience from 6am on Friday through to 2am the following day. Overall, the opening ceremony averaged 23.02 million viewers and an 82.7% audience share. The show hit a five-minute peak audience of 26.9 million viewers at 9.50pm. This was the channel’s best performance since a new measurement system was introduced by official ratings body Barb in 2002, and in all likelihood its best for many years before that…
…In Canada, live coverage of the Opening Ceremony Friday night by Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium broke records as the most-watched Summer Olympic Games broadcast on record up north. On average, 6.4 million Canadians watched the late-afternoon, 3.5- hour-plus ceremony from 4-7:30 p.m. ET, making it the second most-watched Opening Ceremony on record in Canada behind Vancouver 2010 (13.5 million). The audience eclipsed the previous Summer Olympic record-holder, 1996 in Atlanta (4.3 million), by 49%, and delivered nearly four times the audience of Beijing (1.6 million) and more than four times the audience of Athens (1.4 million).
Airing live across Consortium networks in six languages (English, French, Mandarin, Cantonese, Tamil, Punjabi), an astonishing 16.6 million viewers, or nearly one in every two Canadians, tuned in to some part of the ceremony. Overall, 64% of Canadians watched some Olympic Games coverage on the Consortium’s channels yesterday. The television coverage peaked at 8.1 million viewers at 7:36 p.m. ET when the Olympic Cauldron was lit.
Meanwhile, nearly 1.5 million Canadians watched CTV NATIONAL NEWS WITH LISA LaFLAMME live from London, an increase of 36% compared to its summer average.