Olympics: London Games Off to Best Start Since Last U.S. Olympics

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NBC is off to the best start for an Olympics in primetime since the United States last hosted the event ten years ago.

Saturday’s tape delayed primetime coverage of the 2012 Summer Olympics drew a 15.8 final rating and 28.7 million viewers on NBC, up 14% in ratings and 19% in viewership from Beijing in 2008 (13.9, 24.082M), and up 34% and 45%, respectively, from Athens in 2004 (11.8, 19.819M).

The telecast ranks as the highest rated and most-viewed for the first night of Olympic competition since the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics (17.1, 29.409M), the last Olympics held in the United States.

Among Summer Olympics alone, the telecast ranks as the most-viewed opening night on record — even topping the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the last Summer Olympics held in the U.S. (26.3M).

Through two nights, primetime coverage of the London Olympics has averaged 35.6 million viewers on NBC, up 21% from Beijing in 2008 (29.5). This marks the highest average for any Olympics since Salt Lake City in 2002 (37.5M), and the highest for a non-U.S. Olympics since the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics (39.9M).

For the Summer Olympics alone, this marks the highest two-day primetime average on record.

(Saturday’s numbers from NBC Sports Group via Fang’s Bites)

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