It is almost over, and on the final full day of the XXX Summer Olympics (12.6/23) NBC’s 9-11:14 PM primetime coverage of the 2012 Games beat the 2008 Beijing Games by 30% in total viewership. Saturday had an average of 21.8 million viewers compared to Beijing’s 16.8 million on the comparable night. That’s the biggest viewer advantage of London over Beijing for the entire duration of the 2012 Games so far. Last night’s final Saturday primetime viewership number are, no surprise after over two weeks of Olympics broadcasts, down from the 28.0 million who watched Michael Phelps get his 22nd Olympic medal last Saturday. The averaged 31.1 million viewers that the 2012 London Games has had over the past 16 nights has made it the most watched non-U.S. Summer Games since Montreal in 1976. In comparison to Beijing’s average 27.7 million viewers, the London Games are up 12% over the first 16 nights. They are up 25% to the same for the 2004 Athens Games, which had an average of 24.9 million viewers.
It’s not clear yet if the London Games will surpass the 2008 Beijing Games as the most-watched event in U.S. TV history but it’s getting closer. The XXX Summer Olympics moved into the number two spot on Thursday with a total audience of 210.5 million compared to Beijing’s 215 million. That 2012 number moved up to 212.7 million based on Friday’s viewership. Saturday started off at 8 PM with Their Finest Hour, a Tom Brokaw-hosted documentary on the UK during World War II. That was not include in NBC’s Olympics numbers. But at 9 PM, the sport kicked in with Usain Bolt anchored Jamaica in the 4X100m relay to win his third Gold this Games and set a new record, David Boudia won Gold on the 10m platform dive, and the Women’s 4X400m relay team getting the Gold for America
Additionally, the final numbers for Friday’s primetime coverage, which were delayed yesterday, are also now available. NBC’s 9-11:14 PM coverage of the XXX Summer Olympics (13.2/24) on Friday was 23% higher than the national rating earned by the 2008 Beijing Games (10.7/19) on the comparable night. The London Games, which included an interruption from NBC News to announce that Rep. Paul Ryan had been picked as Mitt Romney’s running mate, pulled in 22.5 million viewers in total on Friday in primetime. That makes it the second-most watched second Friday of a non-U.S. Summer Olympics since the comparable day of the 1988 Seoul Games. To put in closer perspective, that 22.5 million is 26% higher than the 17.9 million who watched the comparable night during the 2008 Beijing Games and 12% more than watched the comparable night of the 2004 Athens Games.