UPDATE, 3:05 PM: The U.S. won the first Gold medal today of the 2016 Rio Olympics with Virginia Thrasher taking the top spot in the women’s 10m air rifle event. With the final viewership numbers now in, the same spirit of victory was not there for NBC’s coverage of the Opening Ceremony last night.

The tape-delayed Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira, and Hoda Kotb hosted primetime opener of South America’s first Olympics scored 26.5 million total viewers. That’s down a hard 35% from the all-time audience high of London, which had 40.7 million on July 27, 2012. It is also the lowest NBC has seen since the 2004 Athens games drew 25.4 million.

Now, while no Super Bowl or even this year’s declining Academy Awards, Olympic O.C. obviously numbers are still pretty big in today’s fractured viewing world. Last night’s coverage from Rio was the most watched entertainment broadcast this year after the Oscars and the best any Big 4 net has done on a Friday since the opening of the last Winter Games in 2014. But looking over the last few Olympiads, last night was not what anyone could call a championship result.

Over the 17-days of the 2012 games, NBC’s primetime coverage averaged about 31 million viewers – we’ll see where Rio 2016 is heading in a few days.  However, here are some numbers we do know as of today: At 10 AM ET, NBC passed the 100 million streaming minutes mark counting from the unofficial start of the Games on August 3, the fastest they ever have grown online. Also the soccer coverage on NBCSN over the first two days of the Rio games was up 24% in viewership over London 2012.

Another body blow to the Comcast-owned net on Friday may have come from TeamUSA being pushed up much higher in the parade of nations. Due to its translation into Estados Unidos da América in Brazil’s primary language of Portuguese, the American athletes were out over an hour earlier than they were back in 2012. And it mattered – the ratings reaction saw metered market numbers spike to their highest point in that 10 -10:15 PM ET slot

Which is a Gold medal that doesn’t really count.

PREVIOUSLY, 7:42 PM: Despite being closer in time zones and on less of an annoying tape-delay than London 2012 or Beijing 2008, the Opening Ceremony last night of NBC’s ninth consecutive Olympic Games didn’t even win a bronze in the ratings.

NBC 2016 Olympics logo Rio

The Comcast-owned network’s coverage on Friday of Rio’s start of the Games of the XXXI Olympiad scored a 16.5/30 in metered market results.  That 8-11:30 PM coverage is down just over 28% from the Paul McCartney, David Beckham, James Bond and parachuting Queen extravaganza of July 27, 2012 out of London.

In fact while dance filled the Brazilian metropolis and the Michael Phelps-led U.S. Team coming on much earlier than usual in the parade of nations, NBC’s Rio kick-off coverage isn’t just down from London and Beijing. With a 1-hour delay on the East Coast and a 4-hour delay on the West Coast, it’s the lowest a Summer Opening Ceremony has done in overnight results since Barcelona in 1992.

In contrast, even though delayed by many more hours for the U.S. audience by NBC from its actual London time, the Danny Boyle helmed affair 4-years ago proved the highest ever for an Olympic Opening Ceremony not staged in America. When the final numbers came in, London 2012 also proved the most watched Summer Games O.C. on record with 40.7 million viewers – a sprint of almost a million more than tuned in to see the Muhammad Ali Olympic flame lighting that capped Atlanta O.C. in 1996, also on NBC.

Final numbers for last night’s ad heavy, Gisele Bundchen strutting, environmental themed and, let’s say it again, dance filled Rio Opening Ceremony will come in later today. We’ll update then,  but in the meantime for you statheads, last night’s O.C. coverage on NBC spiked at 10 – 10:15 PM ET when Team USA entered Maracana Stadium in their Ralph Lauren designed outfits. Additionally, for greater context, here’s a look at some past Olympic openers in the early numbers and what the Top 10 local markets were for last night:


1. London – 2012              23.0/40 NBC
2. Beijing – 2008              21.5/37 NBC
3. Lillehammer – 1994    21.0/34 CBS
4. Vancouver – 2010       20.0/33 NBC
5. Nagano – 1998             18.6/30 CBS
6. Sydney – 2000             18.5/32 NBC
7. Seoul – 1988                 18.3/33 NBC
8. Athens – 2004             18.0/30 NBC
9. Sarajevo – 1984           17.2/27 ABC
10. Calgary – 1988           17.0/40 ABC
11. Barcelona – 1992       16.5/32 NBC (Matches Rio 2016 – NBC)
12. Albertville – 1992      16.0/26 CBS
13. Torino – 2006           14.7/23 NBC


1. Los Angeles – 1984       29.5/55 ABC
2. Salt Lake City – 2002   27.9/43 NBC
3. Atlanta – 1996               27.2/47 NBC

1.West Palm               18.5/31
2. Denver                   18.2/38
3. San Diego              17.8/37
4. Washington D.C. 17.8/35
5. Salt Lake City       17.3/36
6. Los Angeles          17.2/36
7. New York City      17.2/32
8. Chicago                 17.0/33
9. San Francisco      17.0/36
10. Ft. Myers            16.5/27
11. Richmond           16.5/29

Having actually started its coverage on August 3, NBC has thousands of hours of programming spread out this Olympics over the main net, NBCSN, Golf Channel, Bravo, CNBC, MSNBC, USA Network, Telemundo, NBC UNIVERSO, NBC Olympic Basketball and Soccer Channels plus more online live streaming than ever before. As it has in past Olympics, NBC proper will present edited highlight packages every night in primetime until the Closing Ceremony on August 21.

And, with one last dose of math, here’s a look at total viewership numbers for past Summer Olympics Opening Ceremonies over nearly 30-years:


1. London – 2012     40.7 Million NBC
2. Atlanta – 1996      39.8 Million NBC
3. Beijing – 2008      34.9 Million NBC
4. Sydney – 2000      27.3 Million NBC
5. Athens – 2004       25.4 Million NBC (Rio – 2016  26.5 Million NBC)
6. Seoul – 1988          22.7 Million NBC
7. Barcelona – 1992   21.6 Million NBC