Olympics Numbers Game (Ratings and Viewership Dating Back to 2002)

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Ratings and viewership for each primetime telecast of the Olympic Games dating back to 2002.

The most recent Olympics have done fairly well for NBC. The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics averaged a 13.8 rating in primetime — the third-lowest of the previous fifty years, but still up 13% from Turin in 2006 (12.2).

The 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics averaged a 16.2 rating in primetime, up 8% from Athens in 2004 (15.0), and the highest rated non-U.S. Olympics since the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998 (16.3, CBS).

Ratings for the 2012 London Olympics are not expected to match Beijing. NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus has already described such a prospect as “unlikely” (USA Today, 7/25). In 2008, marquee events like swimming aired live in primetime in the Eastern and Central time zones. This year, all primetime coverage will air on tape delay.

In addition, all events will be available live online, which could further erode the primetime numbers.

Ratings/Viewership For Primetime Coverage of the Last Five Olympics

Vancouver (2010)
Date Telecast Rating Viewers (000)
Fri., 2/12/10 Opening Ceremony
17.3
32,641
Sat., 2/13/10 Primetime coverage
14.0
26,189
Sun., 2/14/10 Primetime coverage
14.3
26,372
Mon., 2/15/10 Primetime coverage
14.2
25,224
Tue., 2/16/10 Primetime coverage
12.2
20,330
Wed., 2/17/10 Primetime coverage
16.7
29,416
Thu., 2/18/10 Primetime coverage
14.5
24,782
Fri., 2/19/10 Primetime coverage
13.4
23,304
Sat., 2/20/10 Primetime coverage
14.7
26,668
Sun., 2/21/10 Primetime coverage
13.2
23,294
Mon., 2/22/10 Primetime coverage
12.5
20,926
Tue., 2/23/10 Primetime coverage
12.6
21,279
Wed., 2/24/10 Primetime coverage
11.9
19,808
Thu., 2/25/10 Primetime coverage
13.6
22,920
Fri., 2/26/10 Primetime coverage
13.9
24,500
Sat., 2/27/10 Primetime coverage
11.7
20,600
Sun., 2/28/10 Closing Ceremony
12.1
21,400

Beijing (2008)
Date Telecast Rating Viewers (000)
Fri, 8/8/08 Opening Ceremony
18.8
34,891
Sat., 8/9/08 Primetime coverage
13.9
24,082
Sun., 8/10/08 Primetime coverage
18.1
32,256
Mon., 8/11/08 Primetime coverage
17.6
30,173
Tue., 8/12/08 Primetime coverage
19.9
34,014
Wed., 8/13/08 Primetime coverage
16.7
27,656
Thu., 8/14/08 Primetime coverage
17.9
29,708
Fri., 8/15/08 Primetime coverage
15.4
26,071
Sat., 8/16/08 Primetime coverage
17.8
31,593
Sun., 8/17/08 Primetime coverage
16.0
27,184
Mon., 8/18/08 Primetime coverage
15.8
26,374
Tue., 8/19/08 Primetime coverage
16.3
26,629
Wed., 8/20/08 Primetime coverage
15.2
24,755
Thu., 8/21/08 Primetime coverage
13.8
22,438
Fri., 8/22/08 Primetime coverage
10.7
17,876
Sat., 8/23/08 Primetime coverage
10.3
16,756
Sun., 8/24/08 Closing Ceremony
12.3
20,577

Turin (2006)
Date Telecast Rating Viewers (000)
Fri., 2/10/06 Opening Ceremony
12.8
22,174
Sat., 2/11/06 Primetime coverage
13.5
23,239
Sun., 2/12/06 Primetime coverage
13.3
23,224
Mon., 2/13/06 Primetime coverage
12.8
21,069
Tue., 2/14/06 Primetime coverage
11.3
18,405
Wed., 2/15/06 Primetime coverage
11.3
17,867
Thu., 2/16/06 Primetime coverage
11.9
19,378
Fri., 2/17/06 Primetime coverage
11.2
18,928
Sat., 2/18/06 Primetime coverage
11.3
19,673
Sun., 2/19/06 Primetime coverage
11.6
19,238
Mon., 2/20/06 Primetime coverage
13.6
22,482
Tue., 2/21/06 Primetime coverage
15.5
25,079
Wed., 2/22/06 Primetime coverage
10.0
16,007
Thu., 2/23/06 Primetime coverage
15.8
25,723
Fri., 2/24/06 Primetime coverage
9.7
15,932
Sat., 2/25/06 Primetime coverage
9.7
16,544
Sun., 2/26/06 Closing Ceremony
8.9
14,837

Athens (2004)
Date Telecast Rating Viewers (000)
Fri., 8/13/04 Opening Ceremony
14.6
25,384
Sat., 8/14/04 Primetime coverage
11.8
19,819
Sun., 8/15/04 Primetime coverage
15.4
25,819
Mon., 8/16/04 Primetime coverage
16.6
27,109
Tue., 8/17/04 Primetime coverage
18.3
30,146
Wed., 8/18/04 Primetime coverage
17.3
28,396
Thu., 8/19/04 Primetime coverage
19.3
31,705
Fri., 8/20/04 Primetime coverage
14.4
23,749
Sat., 8/21/04 Primetime coverage
13.6
22,544
Sun., 8/22/04 Primetime coverage
15.8
26,039
Mon., 8/23/04 Primetime coverage
16.4
25,943
Tue., 8/24/04 Primetime coverage
15.7
24,972
Wed., 8/25/04 Primetime coverage
15.3
24,265
Thu., 8/26/04 Primetime coverage
13.8
21,515
Fri., 8/27/04 Primetime coverage
12.5
20,141
Sat., 8/28/04 Primetime coverage
11.1
18,029
Sun., 8/29/04 Closing Ceremony
11.9
19,563

Salt Lake City (2002)
Date Telecast Rating Viewers (000)
Fri., 2/8/02 Opening Ceremony
25.5
45,562
Sat., 2/9/02 Primetime coverage
17.1
29,409
Sun., 2/10/02 Primetime coverage
17.6
30,201
Mon., 2/11/02 Primetime coverage
19.6
31,528
Tue., 2/12/02 Primetime coverage
18.5
29,762
Wed., 2/13/02 Primetime coverage
17.5
27,425
Thu., 2/14/02 Primetime coverage
17.6
28,183
Fri., 2/15/02 Primetime coverage
15.8
25,883
Sat., 2/16/02 Primetime coverage
14.0
24,116
Sun., 2/17/02 Primetime coverage
17.1
28,413
Mon., 2/18/02 Primetime coverage
17.1
26,482
Tue., 2/19/02 Primetime coverage
22.3
36,739
Wed., 2/20/02 Primetime coverage
19.5
31,979
Thu., 2/21/02 Primetime coverage
26.8
43,311
Fri., 2/22/02 Primetime coverage
17.7
29,157
Sat., 2/23/02 Primetime coverage
15.7
27,071
Sun., 2/24/02 Closing Ceremony
22.3
38,738

(Previous Olympic ratings/viewership from Media Life Magazine; additional information from USA Today)

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