After a drop in the overnights, final ratings and viewership for the fourth night of the 2012 London Olympics continued to rank as the best in years.
Tape delayed primetime coverage of the 2012 Summer Olympics earned an 18.0 final rating and 31.6 million viewers on NBC Monday night, up 2% in ratings and 5% in viewership from Beijing in 2008 (17.6, 30.173M), and up 8% and 17%, respectively, from Athens in 2004 (16.6, 27.109M).
The most recent Olympics — the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver — earned a 14.2 rating and 25.224 million viewers for the first Monday night telecast.
The 18.0 rating is the highest for the first Monday night of the Olympic Games since the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics (19.6), the most recent U.S.-based Olympics.
Of note, ratings for the past two primetime telecasts have included the first half-hour of coverage. Dating back to at least 2002, NBC has omitted the first lower-rated half-hour of the Olympic primetime window from the overall numbers.
Through four nights, primetime coverage of the Olympics has averaged an 18.9 rating and 34.8 million viewers on NBC — up 10% in ratings and 14% in viewership from 2008 (17.2, 30.5M), and up 29% and 41%, respectively, from 2004 (14.7, 24.7M).
This marks the highest average rating for any Olympic Games since Salt Lake City in 2002 (20.1), and the largest average audience since Lillehammer in 1994 (37.4M). Among Summer Olympics alone, this marks the highest average rating since Atlanta in 1996 (21.8), and the largest average audience on record.
Of the past ten Olympics, summer or winter, this year’s edition ranks as the fourth-highest rated through the first Monday, and the second-highest when U.S. Olympics are excluded.
Keep in mind that prior to the start of the London Olympics, NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus said it would be “unlikely” that ratings would match or surpass 2008.
(Monday’s numbers and four-night averages from NBC Universal Media Village)