UPDATE 10:30 AM: Last night’s opening ceremony of the London Olympics drew 40.7 million viewers to become the most watched Summer Games opening ceremony ever and the most watched non-U.S. Olympics opener. Overall, it is the second most watched opening ceremony behind only the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter games. Vs. the last two Summer Olympics, Danny Boyle’s show, highlighted by the Queen’s skit with James Bond, drew almost 6 million more viewers than the 2008 Beijing Olympics (34.9 million) and 15 million more than the 2004 Athens Olympics (25.4 million), the last games held in Europe.
PREVIOUS 7:50 AM: NBC‘s decision to keep footage from the Olympics opening ceremony off TV and the Web for hours to make U.S.’ primetime angered fans but resulted in strong preliminary ratings for the extravaganza orchestrated by Danny Boyle. The show scored a 23.0 Rating/40 Share in the overnight ratings — the highest ever for Games not held on American soil. Compared to the three most recent Olympic Games, that was 7% higher than Beijing, 28% higher than Athens and 24% higher than Sydney. (Of course, London had a more favorable time zone difference than the other three.) Overall, the Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and Atlanta Games’ opening festivities are remain highest-rated. The ceremony did great at home too, posting a 14-year high rating for BBC.
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Here is a chart of historic US ratings data: (more…)