/// London 2012: NBC on Record Ratings Pace

July 30, 2012  |  Media Week

Despite all the agita over NBC’s coverage of the 2012 London Olympic Games, fans continue to tune in to the prime-time broadcasts in record numbers. According to Nielsen, Friday night’s opening ceremony averaged 40.7 million total viewers, obliterating all previously held records for a Summer Olympics broadcast. Danny Boyle’s celebration of British history—an eye-popping pageant that incorporated everything from a tribute to the National Health Service to the base-jumping tandem of James Bond and Queen Elizabeth II —beat out the awesome-in-every-sense-of-the-word spectacle of the Beijing opener (34.9 million viewers) by 17 percent. The previous high-water mark for an opening ceremony was set at the 1996 Atlanta Games, which served up 39.8 million viewers. If NBC’s tape-delayed opener didn’t always connect with the Twitterati—viewers were particularly incensed by the omission of a tribute to the victims of the July 7, 2005, London terror attacks—the gaffes didn’t seem to have a material impact on America’s enthusiasm for watching the games on TV. On Saturday, 28.7 million viewers tuned in between approximately 8:30 p.m. EDT and 11:30 p.m. EDT, marking a 9 percent improvement from the previous record holder (Atlanta, 26.3 million viewers).

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