2012 London Olympics Highest Rated, Most-Viewed Since 2002

Posted by | August 13, 2012 at 7:43 PM

The 2012 London Olympics, which NBC Sports chairman Mark Lazarus once said would be “unlikely” to top Beijing, surpassed all ratings expectations.

Tape delayed primetime coverage of the 2012 Summer Olympics averaged a 17.5 rating and 31.1 million viewers on NBC (seventeen telecasts), up 8% in ratings and 12% in viewership from Beijing in 2008 (16.2, 27.7M), and up 17% and 26%, respectively, from Athens in 2004 (15.0, 24.6M).

The most recent Olympics — the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver — averaged a 13.8 and 24.4 million for primetime coverage.

This marks the highest rated and most-viewed Olympics in primetime since Salt Lake City in 2002 (19.2, 32.0M), and the top Summer Olympics since Atlanta in 1996 (21.6, 33.1M).

Excluding U.S.-based Olympics, the London Games ranks as the highest rated and most-viewed since Lillehammer in 1994 (27.8, 43.2M), and the top Summer Olympics since Montreal in 1976.

Of the past twelve Olympics (dates back twenty years), the London Olympics ranks as the fifth-highest rated and the fourth-most viewed in primetime. Excluding U.S.-based Olympics, this year’s event ranks as the third-highest rated and the second-most viewed over that same span.

Night-by-night ratings for the Olympics available at the bottom of this post.

Average Ratings/Viewership For Primetime Coverage of the Olympics
Past two decades

Year Type Site Net Rating Viewers
2012 Summer London NBC
17.5
31.1M
2010 Winter Vancouver NBC
13.8
24.4M
2008 Summer Beijing NBC
16.2
27.7M
2006 Winter Turin NBC
12.2
20.2M
2004 Summer Athens NBC
15.0
24.6M
2002 Winter Salt Lake City NBC
19.2
32.0M
2000 Summer Sydney NBC
13.8
21.5M
1998 Winter Nagano CBS
16.3
25.1M
1996 Summer Atlanta NBC
21.6
33.1M
1994 Winter Lillehammer CBS
27.8
43.2M
1992 Summer Barcelona NBC
17.1
25.9M
1992 Winter Albertville CBS
18.7
29.0M

Ratings/Viewership For Primetime Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics
Also includes adults 18-49 ratings

Date Time Telecast Rating vs. ’08 Viewers (000) vs. ’08 A18-49 vs. ’08
Start End
Fri., 7/27/12 8:00 PM 12:02 AM Opening Ceremony
21.0
+12%
40,651M
+17%
12.2
+18%
Sat., 7/28/12 8:30 PM 11:28 PM Primetime coverage
15.8
+14%
28,715M
+19%
8.8
+10%
Sun., 7/29/12 7:00 PM 11:14 PM Primetime coverage
19.8
+9%
36,047M
+12%
11.6
+4%
Mon., 7/30/12 8:00 PM 11:23 PM Primetime coverage
18.0
+2%
31,582M
+5%
10.6
even
Tue., 7/31/12 8:00 PM 11:43 PM Primetime coverage
21.8
+10%
38,719M
+14%
12.8
+3%
Wed., 8/1/12 8:00 PM 11:26 PM Primetime coverage
17.9
+7%
30,804M
+11%
9.9
+5%
Thu., 8/2/12 8:00 PM 12:00 AM Primetime coverage
21.1
+18%
36,799M
+24%
11.9
+14%
Fri., 8/3/12 8:30 PM 11:09 PM Primetime coverage
16.2
+5%
28,508M
+9%
8.7
+2%
Sat., 8/4/12 8:30 PM 11:15 PM Primetime coverage
15.9
-11%
27,964M
-11%
8.6
-19%
Sun., 8/5/12 7:30 PM 11:29 PM Primetime coverage
17.5
+9%
31,262M
+15%
10.2
+11%
Mon., 8/6/12 8:00 PM 11:05 PM Primetime coverage
15.8
even
26,572M
+1%
8.3
-7%
Tue., 8/7/12 8:00 PM 11:22 PM Primetime coverage
17.6
+8%
30,146M
+13%
9.6
+5%
Wed., 8/8/12 8:00 PM 11:00 PM Primetime coverage
16.8
+11%
29,093M
+18%
9.4
+12%
Thu., 8/9/12 8:00 PM 11:11 PM Primetime coverage
13.6
-1%
22,857M
+2%
7.0
-4%
Fri., 8/10/12 9:00 PM 11:14 PM Primetime coverage
13.2
+23%
22,494M
+26%
6.6
+20%
Sat., 8/11/12 9:00 PM 11:25 PM Primetime coverage
12.6
+22%
21,792M
+30%
6.2
+22%
Sun., 8/12/12 8:30 PM 10:58 PM Closing Ceremony
17.0
+10%
31,011M
+11%
9.2
+12%

(17-night average from NBC Universal Media Village; additional information on past Olympics from Hollywood Reporter, Reuters, Sports Marketing 2011)