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

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).

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38 Comments
  1. nickp says:

    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.

  2. Janey says:

    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.

    • Saint Alicia says:

      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??

      • The Critic says:

        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

        • Jess says:

          At the expense of a tribute to victims of a terrorist attack? I wouldn’t call that kind of disrespect “understandable”.

        • ourcatfrank says:

          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!!

        • Amanda says:

          But as a country that takes every opportunity to mourn the victims of 9/11…it’s shameful that they cut this. No sympathy.

        • Saint Alicia says:

          Pretty sure this is sarcasm (lighten up, people above), but that IS probably NBC’s mindset.
          Just pitiful.

    • Anna says:

      Obviously a Ryan Seacrest interview is more important. Nice priorities, NBC.

    • Lucy says:

      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.

      • Rowan77 says:

        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.

      • Janey says:

        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”.

  3. RICHARD HILL says:

    Lets hope the unedited version is released on Blu ray.

  4. Ally says:

    Um, the Olympics weren’t in Los Angeles in 1994.

  5. bobysmith24 says:

    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.

  6. Steve says:

    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.

  7. sonia says:

    Cant understand why the moving 7/7 tribute was cut. Bad decision from NBC.

  8. Freyja says:

    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.

  9. bad kevin Tran 2.0 says:

    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!!!!

  10. 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.

    • Gemini says:

      Sorry–without Meridith & Matt’s explanations I would have had no idea what was going on in the beginning..

      • Shozo says:

        Do you goto the movies and ask whats going on as well……?

      • Melsol says:

        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!!!

    • 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.

  11. 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!

    • 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)!

  12. Chele Hipp says:

    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!

    • Christopher says:

      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?

  13. Tony Kalicov says:

    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!

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