Olympics: Primetime Coverage Earns Yet Another Increase on NBC


NBC had another strong night for coverage of the 2012 London Olympics.

Tape delayed primetime coverage of the 2012 Summer Olympics drew a 16.8 final rating and 29.1 million viewers on NBC Wednesday night, up 11% in ratings and 17% in viewership from Beijing in 2008 (15.2, 24.755M), and up 10% and 20%, respectively, from Athens in 2004 (15.3, 24.265M).

The comparable night of the most recent Olympics — the 2010 Winter Olympics from Vancouver — earned an 11.9 and 19.808 million viewers.

This marks the highest rated second Wednesday of the Olympics since Salt Lake City in 2002 (19.5), and the highest for a non-U.S. Olympics since Lillehammer in 1994 (48.5).

Among Summer Olympics alone, the telecast ranks as the highest rated for the second Wednesday since Atlanta in 1996 (19.8) and the most-viewed since Montreal in 1976 — even topping Atlanta (29.8M).

Through Wednesday, primetime coverage of the Olympics has averaged an 18.3 rating and 32.6 million viewers on NBC — up 8% in ratings and 12% in viewership from 2008 (16.9, 29.0M), and up 16% and 25%, respectively, from 2004 (15.8, 26.0M).

Ratings have increased for eleven of the thirteen primetime windows, and viewership has increased for twelve.

The 18.3 average rating is the highest for any Olympics through the second Wednesday since Salt Lake City in 2002 (18.4) and the highest for any Summer Olympics since Atlanta in 1996 (22.5). Excluding U.S.-based Olympics, this marks the highest average through the second Wednesday since Lillehammer in 1994 (27.6).

Average Ratings For the Olympics Through the Second Wednesday
Past two decades

(Wednesday’s numbers and 13-night average from NBC Universal Media Village)

  • Mikel

    I’ve noticed a trend where the difference between overnight ratings and the final ratingsĀ  vs beijing 2008 are quite different. I think Ive seen overnight ratings increase by 3% for a few nights but the final ratings are about 11% higher. Any explanation or reason for that trend.

    • Paulsen

      I would guess that smaller markets are tuning into the Olympics in larger numbers than in 2008. Remember that overnights are for the top 56 metered markets, and final ratings include all TV markets.