Great, Britain! Olympics Burn Hot for NBC, Most-Watched Summer Games Opener Ever

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NBC’s Friday-night broadcast of the Opening Ceremonies for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London was on fire, drawing 40.7 million total viewers — the most for any Summer Games opener on record (dating back 50 years).

For comparison’s sake, the opening ceremony for the Atlanta games (1996, NBC) drew 39.8 million, while Beijing (2008, NBC) played to 34.9 million viewers.

RELATED | Olympics: What Was Your Favorite Moment From the 2012 Opening Ceremonies?

Versus the last European-based Olympics (Athens, 2004), London’s opener drew 15 million more viewers.

Earlier this morning, preliminary numbers suggested that NBC’s overnight rating/share set an all-time best for a non-U.S. opening ceremony. But per updated tallies (21.0/37), it instead represents the best for a non-U.S. Summer Olympics ever, and the second-best rating/share for a non-U.S. Games in 36 years (since Innsbruck, 1976).


Comments (38)

  • Unlike the U.S. audience, U.K. viewers got to see Danny Boyle’s Opening Ceremony for the Olympic Games live. The program, which aired on BBC1, drew the largest TV audience for any program since 1998.

    Comment by nickp – July 28, 2012 09:01 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Canada got to see it live as well! So glad we have television stations who don’t force us to watch what they choose for us to see! (and avoid the ridiculous commentary I heard you got on NBC)

      Comment by Tonya – July 28, 2012 10:53 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Wish i was there. M&M truly ruined it for America.

      Comment by baltimorehomeschoolgroup – July 28, 2012 03:35 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The UK audience also got the uncut version, so we got the 7/7 tribute. Still mystified as to why it would have been cut for US audiences.

    Comment by Janey – July 28, 2012 09:07 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Just heard about that… so tasteless and disrespectful I don’t even know what to say.
      Really, who thought that would be a good idea??

      Comment by Saint Alicia – July 28, 2012 09:36 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • The last time I checked NBC is an American network. It broadcasts the Olympics for the US and the Americans. So it’s understandable that NBC will try to make anything out of Michael Phelps

        Comment by The Critic – July 28, 2012 10:05 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • At the expense of a tribute to victims of a terrorist attack? I wouldn’t call that kind of disrespect “understandable”.

          Comment by Jess – July 28, 2012 10:43 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Imagine the disgust in American if we in UK had edited out a 9/11 tribute! Sorry NBC but your actions are offensive. Loss of life to terrorists transcends borders!!

          Comment by ourcatfrank – July 28, 2012 10:46 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • But as a country that takes every opportunity to mourn the victims of 9/11…it’s shameful that they cut this. No sympathy.

          Comment by Amanda – July 28, 2012 10:48 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Pretty sure this is sarcasm (lighten up, people above), but that IS probably NBC’s mindset.
          Just pitiful.

          Comment by Saint Alicia – July 28, 2012 10:58 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Obviously a Ryan Seacrest interview is more important. Nice priorities, NBC.

      Comment by Anna – July 28, 2012 09:43 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I would have thought it’s obvious why it was cut: The majority of (not all) US people are primarily concerned with themselves and all things American, and that’s it. If NBC were editing for time, of course they’d assume most Americans wouldn’t be interested in seeing a tribute to some dead British people.

      Comment by Lucy – July 28, 2012 03:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I think you’re right, and it’s showing how that network doesn’t understand that terrorism is a global problem and the victims of 7/7 are just as important as the victims of 9/11. Considering that this is the Olympics and a major international event they are broadcasting, they seem to have completely lost what the Olympics is about. Perhaps another network should be broadcasting the Winter Olympics of 2014.

        Comment by Rowan77 – July 28, 2012 09:15 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • They’ve said it wasn’t tailored to an American audience, and that’s why it was cut. I’m just trying to imagine the reaction if the BBC had cut a tribute to some “dead American people”.

        Comment by Janey – July 29, 2012 01:35 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Lets hope the unedited version is released on Blu ray.

    Comment by RICHARD HILL – July 28, 2012 09:16 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Will they actually release it DVD/Blu-Ray? I would love to see the unedited version.

      Comment by bkwrm – July 28, 2012 09:32 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Go onto Kickass Torrents…unedited version on there.

        Comment by Philc – July 28, 2012 01:42 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • They didnt release Beijing on Blu Ray so doubtful they will do this one as well. Also no option for no commentary either.

      Comment by PB – July 28, 2012 10:15 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Yeah but Beijing’s ceremony wasnt created by an Oscar award winning director! I’d assume that there will be a commemorative DVD, especially over here in the UK!

        Comment by Kate McKenna (@Katemadeleine) – July 28, 2012 03:44 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Um, the Olympics weren’t in Los Angeles in 1994.

    Comment by Ally – July 28, 2012 09:31 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • That’s called a 9 am typo; this has been amended!

      Comment by Matt Webb Mitovich – July 28, 2012 09:53 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Almost everywhere in the world, the ceremony is broadcast LIVE and UNCUT, like here in France and in most of the country in the world. As far as I know, there is only in the US where you can’t see it LIVE and UNCUT.

    Comment by bobysmith24 – July 28, 2012 09:59 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Sadly the united states is in a period where we tend to get many things wrong .

      Comment by Shozo – July 28, 2012 03:04 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Disappointed in NBC but whats new. Sure Bell was glad to see that now GMA Sat is also beating Today. I think real soon we’re gonna be sick of the Olympics esp as NBC will be shifting sports so we get half an hour of swimming or gymnastics and then they switch to something youre not interested in for an hour and you have to hope you tune back in at the right time…and if things arent live (I think London is five hours ahead) its going to be impossible to not hear results unless you dont watch tv or turn your phone on. There will be alerts on your phone as to who won and the other networks will gladly report the results on time to spoil NBC, and if you turn on your computer, youre most likely going to see results on dozens of websites.

    The one good thing it shows broadcast television can still draw huge audiences…and this was on a Friday night as well.

    I think we’re about to get an overdose of Seacrest…Hes everywhere – NOt only E! which few watch but now hes an NBC “reporter” cuz of the Comcast buy, and will probably be doing celeb interviews on Today; then he does Idol on Fox; and he does New Years Eve on ABC. Amazing how he’s parlayed hosting a reality show into so much – but we still have to blame him for pushing the Kardashians on the world.

    Comment by Steve – July 28, 2012 10:22 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Cant understand why the moving 7/7 tribute was cut. Bad decision from NBC.

    Comment by sonia – July 28, 2012 10:41 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Totally agree…I’m in the USA and would have loved to have seen the tribute.

      Comment by Gemini – July 28, 2012 01:55 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I thought it was boring and dull, I tuned out half way through. The only interesting and fun part was The Queen and Bond that was a classic, but as for the rest snooze alert. I wound up playing SWTOR instead.

    Comment by Freyja – July 28, 2012 10:50 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Dangity dang ole man hope NBC go ahead and cancels them there olympics they just dont want to compete with china man i tell you what!!!!

    Comment by bad kevin Tran 2.0 – July 28, 2012 11:17 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • It wouldn’t have mattered if they left the Tribute in the US broadcast or not… We wouldn’t have been able to hear it because Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira would have talk right over it like they did for everything during the Opening Ceremony. It rendered the thing unwatchable. They needed to shut up and let the audience enjoy the beautiful spectacle Danny Boyle worked so hard imagining.

    Comment by The Average Movie Nerd – July 28, 2012 11:25 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Sorry–without Meridith & Matt’s explanations I would have had no idea what was going on in the beginning..

      Comment by Gemini – July 28, 2012 01:59 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Do you goto the movies and ask whats going on as well……?

        Comment by Shozo – July 28, 2012 02:55 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Wow are really that simple. You couldn’t tell those were children singing. you couldn’t tell that was the country side. Those were Nurses. Where is something your uneducated simple mind might have needed to hear. The kids in beds where reading this awesome thing called a BOOK. M&M should have SHUT UP!!!

        Comment by Melsol – July 28, 2012 03:25 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I really could not watch it with Matt and Meredith disrespectful comments. I am so glad the rest of the world did not hear their comments.

      Comment by baltimorehomeschoolgroup – July 28, 2012 03:30 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I love the fact that everyone’s mood, in the Uk, is uplifted, people out and about, sharing local spectacles of celebration. The day after the night before is the word about the bird around family’s, friends, neigbours and people on the street. In my own opinion, the last time people spoke in such volumes to the anonymous stranger next to them was about the late Princess Diana, but this time, a feeling of fine pride, shines through on even the young people. For the first time, in my lifetime many people stand united for a common cause, lets forget opinions and directors with opening cerimonies, the real games are begining and we should share that in our own home with our roar of support, the games this time represent us, and behold what we can be!

    Comment by BenTheMotionist – July 28, 2012 12:04 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I agree, I was speaking to everyone about the opening ceremony today in work and we were all so proud to be British, cannot remembered the last time (especially in the North of England) nearly everyone I knew was proud to be British! amazing opening ceremony and for once in my life I am glad that I dont have American TV (NBC)!

      Comment by Kate McKenna (@Katemadeleine) – July 28, 2012 03:47 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I am so fed up with the tape delay coverage already. I have had to spend all day avoiding swimming results and I’ve been watching the evening coverage for an hour and they are still withholding showing it. NBC is being ridiculous!

    Comment by Chele Hipp – July 28, 2012 05:59 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I don’t understand…NBC is showing every event LIVE online. Plus they’re showing different events on different NBC Universal stations. What’s the problem?

      Comment by Christopher – July 28, 2012 06:41 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • American here….truly enjoyed the opening ceremonies, and I agree with everyone who said that M&M should just have stuck to simple explanations (for instance, I did NOT know “Jerusalem” was considered England’s unofficial anthem. (I did read that poem before in a college class). But to have them explain that Voldemort, Captain Hook and Cruella DeVil were villains from English books…GASP! Are people really that dense that they couldn’t figure it out. Plus they interrupted the Music/Teenage montage with their chattering too…I would have rather heard the music…I mean the captions on the screen (texting/IM’ing, etc) explained the whole thing….:D GREAT job Great Britain and Danny Boyle…lots of fun and in my opinion, better than Beijing!

    Comment by Tony Kalicov – July 28, 2012 06:52 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

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