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.

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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).