Presumably validating the network’s decision not to broadcast live, Friday (July 27) night’s coverage of the Opening Ceremony from the London Olympics drew a record-breaking audience to NBC.
Friday’s NBC coverage averaged 40.7 million viewers, topping the 39.8 million viewers who watched the Atlanta Opening (which was broadcast live for much of the country) in 1996. This opening finished far ahead of the 34.9 million viewers who watched the opening from Beijing in 2008 or the 27.3 million who watched the 2000 opening from Sydney.
“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,” blurbs NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus, actively mocking your desire for live coverage.
In terms of ratings and share, Friday’s coverage drew a 21.0 rating/37 share nationally. The top markets for Olympics coverage were San Diego, followed by Washington DC and West Palm Beach.