Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

London Olympics on NBC is Most-Watched Television Event in U.S. History

More than 217 Million Watch 2012 London Olympics, Surpassing the 215 Million from the 2008 Beijing Olympics

Olympic Halo Effect; NBC’s London Success Lifts Viewership Across NBCUniversal Platforms

NBC’s Olympic Primetime Averages 31.1 Million Viewers, The Most-Watched Non-U.S. Summer Olympics in 36 Years – Topped 2008 Beijing Olympics by 12% and the 2004 Athens Olympics by 26%

NBC Olympics Digital Platforms Experience Unprecedented Traffic, Consumption & Engagement

NBC Sports Network Sets Multiple Viewership Records

Most-Watched Closing Ceremony (31.0 Million) for Non-U.S. Summer Olympics in 36 Years

NOTE: Nielsen adjusted its original figure of 219 million total viewers to 217 million shortly after this release was distributed. The correct figure is 217 million.

LONDON – August 13, 2012 – 217 million Americans watched the London Olympics on the networks of NBCUniversal, setting the record as the most-watched event in U.S. television history, surpassing the 2008 Beijing Olympics (215 million), according to data available today from The Nielsen Company.

NBCUniversal, presented its 13th Olympics, the most by any U.S. media company, with an unprecedented 5,535 hours of the 2012 London Olympics coverage across NBC, NBC Sports Network, MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo, Telemundo,, two specialty channels, and the first-ever 3D platform, an unprecedented level that surpasses the coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics by nearly 2,000 hours.

  • With 217 million viewers, London Olympics is most-watched event in U.S. television history;
  • 31.0 million average viewership for Closing Ceremony is most-watched for a non-U.S. Summer Olympics in 36 Years – topped Beijing by 12% and Athens by 58%;
  • NBC averaged 31.1 million viewers over 17 nights in primetime, the most-watched non-U.S. Summer Olympics since the 1976 Montreal Olympics – topped Beijing by 12% and Athens by 26%;
  • The 17.5/30 national household rating over 17 nights in primetime ties the 1988 Seoul Olympics as the highest-rated non-U.S. Summer Olympics since the 1976 Montreal Olympics;
  • NBC Olympics Digital set multiple records with video streams, engagement time and page views – nearly 2 billion page views and 159 million video streams;
  • NBC Sports Network had its most-watched event ever and its six most-watched days ever;
  • Halo effect led to record ratings and significant growth for NBC News’ TODAY and “Nightly News with Brian Williams”;
  • London Olympics lifts ratings and viewership for NBC’s affiliated stations and NBC Owned Television Stations;
  • Telemundo more than doubled its viewership from the 2008 Beijing Olympics;
  • Salt Lake City is top Olympic metered market for 7th straight Olympics;
  • Mountain Time Zone leads the way, followed by Pacific, Central and Eastern.



“The London Olympics was a wonderful 17 days for NBCUniversal, exceeding all our expectations in viewership, digital consumption and revenue. Every part of our company contributed to our success, once again showing how effective we can be when we all get together to support a large project. This was the first Olympic Games for Comcast and the new NBCUniversal, and the first in history in which every minute of every event was available live. We are proud to have been part of the last two weeks, and we couldn’t have asked for a better start to our long run of Olympic Games through 2020.”


“For 17 days, NBCUniversal has surrounded the American viewer with the London Olympics, which have now become the most-watched event in U.S. television history. There are thousands of dedicated and talented people in London and New York who take great pride in being part of these historic Games and this television milestone.”

Below is a rundown of how London Olympics “halo effect” benefited the various divisions and dayparts of NBCUniversal:



1. London Olympics – 2012 217 million NBC
2. Beijing Olympics – 2008 215 million NBC
3. Atlanta Olympics – 1996 209 million NBC
4. Lillehammer Olympics – 1994 204 million CBS
5. Athens Olympics – 2004 203 million NBC
6. Seoul Olympics – 1988 194 million NBC
7. Barcelona Olympics – 1992 192 million NBC
8. Vancouver Olympics – 2010 190 million NBC
9. Salt Lake City Olympics – 2002 187 million NBC
10. Sydney Olympics – 2000 185 million NBC



The London Olympics has averaged 31.1 million viewers in primetime, and a household rating of 17.5, making it the most-watched and highest-rated (tying Seoul 1988) non-U.S. Summer Olympics since the Montreal Olympics in 1976.

· The London Olympics average primetime viewership of 31.1 million viewers is 3.4 million more viewers and 12% higher than the Beijing Olympics (27.7 million) 6.5 million more viewers and 26% higher than the Athens Olympics (24.6 million).

· Nine nights of the London Olympics have drawn more than 30 million viewers, topping the combined total from the 2008 Beijing Olympics (5) and 2004 Athens Olympics (2).

· According to Nielsen live + same day data, the last primetime series to average 30 million viewers was the 2006 season of American Idol.

London Olympics – 2012 31.1 million NBC
Beijing Olympics – 2008 27.7 million NBC
Barcelona Olympics – 1992 25.9 million NBC
Seoul Olympics – 1988 25.3 million NBC
Athens Olympics – 2004 24.6 million NBC
Sydney Olympics – 2000 21.5 million NBC


· The London Olympics 17-night primetime household rating of 17.5/30 ties the 1988 Seoul Olympics as the highest-rated non-U.S. Summer Olympics since Montreal in 1976.

· The 17.5/30 is 8% higher than Beijing (16.2/28), and 17% higher than Athens (15.0/26), the last European Summer Olympics.


Last night’s Closing Ceremony on NBC averaged 31.0 million viewers, the most-watched Closing Ceremony for a non-U.S. Summer Olympics in 36 years. The 31.0 million viewers is 12% more than the Closing Ceremony for Beijing (27.8 million) and 58% more than Athens (19.6 million).

The Closing Ceremony on NBC (8:30-10:58 p.m. ET/PT) earned a 17.0/27 national household rating/share, up 10% from Beijing (15.5/25) and up 43% from Athens (11.9/20).

LONDON OLYMPICS DOMINANT AGAINST COMPETITION: With all 17 nights, the London Olympics stands as the most dominant Olympics in Primetime vs. the three major competing broadcast networks in NBC records (1988 Calgary – now).

OLYMPICS ON NBC 30.5 million in strict primetime

Fox/CBS/ABC combined: 9.1 million (235% advantage)

CBS 4.0 million (663% advantage)

ABC 2.9 million (952% advantage)

Fox 2.2 million (1,286% advantage)

  • The London Olympics holds 8 of the top 10 most dominant nights in household ratings vs. the combined three major broadcast nets in the history of people meters; seven of the top 10 among viewers 2+ (excluding Super Bowls).


NBC’S WEEKDAY DAYTIME SHOW IS MOST-WATCHED IN HISTORY OF NON-U.S. SUMMER OLYMPICS: The London Olympics weekday daytime show, co-hosted by Al Michaels and Dan Patrick, has set numerous viewership records.

  • Average weekday viewership of 7.1 million for all 10 telecasts makes it the most-watched weekday daytime show of any non-U.S. Summer Olympics in history;
  • EVERY weekday daytime telecast from the London Olympics has topped the viewership of the comparable day in Beijing;
  • Average viewership is up 31% from the Beijing Olympics (5.4 million) and up 37% from the Athens Olympics (5.2 million), the last European Summer Olympics.



1. London – 2012 7.1 million
2. Barcelona – 1992 5.9 million
3. Seoul – 1988 5.5 million
4. Beijing – 2008 5.4 million
5. Athens – 2004 5.2 million
6. Sydney – 2000 3.3 million



The six weekend afternoon telecasts on NBC averaged 12.1 million viewers, up 14% from the weekend afternoon coverage from Beijing (10.6 million), and up 27% from Athens (9.5 million).

The six weekend morning telecasts on NBC averaged 10.5 million viewers, up 31% from Beijing (8.0 million, five telecasts), and up 75% from Athens (6.0 million, three telecasts).

The five early morning weekend telecasts on NBC averaged 5.7 million viewers. There is no comparison to previous Olympics.

Other weekend coverage highlights:

  • The Men’s Team USA basketball gold medal game vs. Spain drew 12.5 million viewers, the most-watched gold medal basketball game since the 2000 Sydney Olympics (16.3 million), and more than double the viewership for the gold medal telecast from Beijing (6.0 million).
  • The live Williams-Sharapova gold medal match (Sat. Aug, 4, 9-10:30 a.m. ET), which took place on Centre Court at Wimbledon with Williams winning 6-0, 6-1, NBC drew 7.9 million viewers.
  • The live men’s tennis gold medal match (Sun. Aug 5, 9-11:30 a.m. ET) with Andy Murray defeating Roger Federer, a rematch of this year’s Wimbledon final, drew 8.2 million viewers.



  • The 15 late night programs drew 6.2 million viewers, an increase of 13% vs. Beijing Games (5.5 million), and 17% more than Athens (5.3 million). Best viewership for a non-U.S. Summer Olympics since the 1992 Barcelona Olympics (6.4 million).



As of Saturday’s broadcast of the 2012 London Olympics, Telemundo Media, “the U.S. Home of the Olympic Games in Spanish,” had more than doubled its audience from the 2008 Beijing Olympics among total viewers and adults 18-49. The Olympic Coverage, especially tailored to the Hispanic audience, had delivered a total cumulative viewership of 19.3 million total viewers, 29% more than the Beijing Olympics for the same period. Some highlights of the record breaking broadcast include:

  • The widely anticipated “Great Golden Final” between Brazil and Mexico on Saturday, August 11, at 10am ET ranked as the most-watched Olympic event in the history of the network, averaging 3.6 million total viewers, and ranked as the highest-rated delivery among all of Telemundo’s weekend daytime soccer telecasts in the network’s history.
  • Users are averaging 111.4 streaming minutes per viewer on the web and 94.3 streaming minutes per viewer on the app.



During their Olympic broadcasts, the NBCUniversal cable networks (BRAVO, CNBC, MSNBC, and NBCSN) reached more than 82.4 million viewers, 160% more than the 31.7 million the networks reached during comparable time periods a year ago.

  • Olympic coverage on the cable networks of NBCU averaged 716,000 average viewers, up 2% from Beijing through the same period, and up 34% from Athens.


During the London Olympics, NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) set multiple viewership records:

  • Team USA Women’s Gold Medal soccer match is NBC Sports Network’s most watched event in history with 4.350 million viewers.
  • Coverage of Team USA Men’s Basketball on NBCSN averaged more than 2.6 million viewers (2.632), including a high of 3.330 million viewers for Team USA-Argentina group stage game (8/6).
  • NBCSN delivered its six most-watched days ever during the Olympics including its best day ever on Thurs. Aug. 9 (U.S. Women’s Soccer Gold Medal). Eleven of the top 12 days in NBCSN’s history have come during the Olympics.
  • During the Olympics, NBCSN has ranked as the No. 5 most-watched cable network during the 6A-8P time period and No. 1 among Adults 18-49 and Adults 25-54. (Viewership ranks behind only Disney, Nick, Cartoon, and Fox News).
  • The London Olympics are the most-watched event ever on NBCSN with 48.9 million total viewers (through Thursday, August 9).
  • Olympic coverage helped lift the MLS on NBCSN to deliver its two most-watched games to date on NBCSN (Dallas/Portland, 8/5: 405,000 viewers; LA/Dallas 7/28: 392,000 viewers).



Date Event Detail Viewers
8/9/12 USA Women’s Soccer Gold Medal vs. Japan 4.35 million
8/6/12 USA Men’s Basketball Group Match vs. Argentina 3.33 million
7/28/12 Rowing First Saturday 7P-8P 3.14 million
8/9/12 Wrestling Following Women’s Soccer Gold Medal 3.10 million
8/8/12 USA Men’s Basketball Quarter Final vs. Australia 3.09 million
8/6/12 USA Women’s Soccer Semi Final vs. Canada 2.92 million
8/10/12 USA Men’s Basketball Semi Final vs. Argentina 2.82 million
7/29/12 USA Men’s Basketball Group Match vs. France 2.65 million
7/28/12 USA Women’s Soccer Group Match vs. Columbia 2.48 million
8/2/12 USA Men’s Basketball Group Match vs. Nigeria 2.32 million



The home of Olympic Boxing, CNBC averaged 449,000 viewers for its 5-8 p.m. ET Olympic coverage, it’s best weeks in the time period since the week of Feb 22, 2010 (Vancouver Olympics).


The home of Olympic tennis averaged a 0.36 household rating and 484,000 viewers throughout the Olympics.

· Versus comparable dayparts in the prior four weeks, Bravo’s Tennis coverage was up 107% in household ratings and up 124% among total viewers.


During the London Olympics, MSNBC had two days with more than one million viewers, first time achieved by MSNBC in its four Summer Olympics.

  • Sat 7/28, 1,133 million viewers
  • Sun 7/29, 1,074 million viewers
  • The highest rated day from Beijing was 8/13/08 at 951,000



For the first time ever, NBC live streamed every competition as well as Closing Ceremony. In all, the site streamed more than 3,500 total programming hours, including the awarding of all 302 medals. In addition, NBC Olympics provided two new apps for the 2012 London Olympics. The NBC Olympics Live Extra app live streamed every athletic competition and provided multiple concurrent streams for select sports, such as gymnastics (each apparatus), track and field (each event), and tennis (up to five courts). The NBC Olympics app served as the home for everything else Olympics, including short-form highlights, event schedules, TV and online listings, results, athlete profiles, columns and the new Primetime Companion feature.

During the 17 days of the London Olympics,, the mobile site and the Apps delivered unprecedented traffic, consumption and engagement.


  • Cable, satellite, and telco customers have verified 9.9 million devices either on or on theNBC Olympics Live Extra app.
    • This is believed to be the most device verifications ever for a single event in TV Everywhere history.
    • There are approximately 100 million cable, satellite and telco homes in the U.S.



  • 159.3 million, more than double the entire Beijing Olympics (75.5 million).
  • 20.4 million hours of total video streamed, more than double the entire Beijing Olympics (9.9 million).



  • 64.4 million, 353% more than Beijing (14.0 million streams)
  • 13.6 million hours of live video has been streamed, 340% more than Beijing (4.0 million hours)
  • Users are averaging 111.4 live streaming minutes per viewer on the web and 94.3 live streaming minutes per viewer on the app



  • The NBC Olympics Live Extra and NBC Olympics Apps were downloaded more than 8 million times
  • The NBC Olympics Live Extra is believed to be the most downloaded “event- specific” App in Apple store history
  • 63% of live streams were viewed on the web, 37% in the Live Extra App
  • 70% of total video streams were viewed on the web, 30% in the two Apps



London 2012 Beijing 2008 computer 57.1 million 51.8 million mobile website 10.1 million 6.5 million
NBC Olympics Live Extra app 11.2 million NA
NBC Olympics app 3.7 million NA



  • 1.9 billion across on computer, mobile and tablet, and both apps, 650 million more than Beijing (1.25 billion)
  • Users are spending an average of 30 minutes per visit to, up from 12.3 minutes during the Beijing Olympics



August 9, 2012 London Team USA women’s soccer wins Gold* Soccer 1,467,465
July 31, 2012 London Team USA Women’s Gymnastics wins Gold* Gymnastics 1,462,834
August 5, 2012 London Usain Bolt wins 100 Meter Gold Track & Field 1,288,941
August 2, 2012 London Michael Phelps wins 200IM Gold Swimming 1,192,812
August 2, 2012 London Gabby Douglas wins Women’s All-Around Gold* Gymnastics 1,096,319
July 30, 2012 London Men’s Gymnastics Team Gold Medal Final* Gymnastics 1,067,679
August 6, 2012 London Team USA women’s soccer semifinal* Soccer 1,047,733
July 31, 2012 London Team USA Men’s Swimming wins 4×200 Gold* Swimming 1,010,416
July 28, 2012 London Ryan Lochte wins 400IM Gold* Swimming 891,819
July 29, 2012 London Team USA Men’s Swimming earns 4×100 Silver* Swimming 823,194

(*Streamed only to cable, satellite and telco customers who verified their accounts)


Gabby Douglas — the women’s gymnastics all-around gold medalist who also won gold as a member of Team USA — was by far the ‘Most Clicked Athlete’ on NBC with 23.4 million views, nearly 10 million more than fellow gymnast McKayla Maroney. Following are the Top 10 Most Clicked Athletes for the 17 days of the London Olympics on

Gabby Douglas Gymnast, USA 23,427,579
McKayla Maroney Gymnast, USA 14,119,945
Usain Bolt Track & Field, Jamaica 12,922,670
Michael Phelps Swimmer, USA 7,997,617
Misty May-Treanor Beach Volleyball, USA 7,638,830
Jordyn Wieber Gymnast, USA 6,645,748
Alex Morgan Soccer, USA 6,532,436
Aly Raisman Gymnast, USA 5,914,297
Feck Stephan Diver, Germany 3,799,552
Jen Kessy Beach Volleyball, USA 3,537,464

NOTE: All data for and NBC Olympics Mobile is provided by Omniture.



  • The Olympics have helped to boost NBC’s affiliated stations. For the17 days of the Olympics (July 27-August 12), NBC affiliates were the No. 1 station in their market in all of the 56 metered markets.
  • Local Newscasts on NBC affiliates saw major increases, Within the metered markets, the household rating for Monday-Friday local newscasts grew compared to the July 2012 sweeps period
  • Morning (5-7am) up 53%
  • Evening (5-7:30pm) up 59%
  • Late (11p /12m) up 84%
  • In addition, within the 25 local people meter markets the late newscasts more than doubled their 25-54 delivery despite the hour later start.



  • During the London Olympics, Access Hollywood’s 2.7 national household rating is the best week since the week of 1/28/08 (235-week high).
  • Access Hollywood is up 50% (2.7 vs. 1.8) vs. the prior week and 69% (2.7 vs. 1.6) vs. the same week last year.
  • Access Hollywood is up 23% (2.7 vs. 2.2) vs. the first week of the Beijing Olympics and up 4% (2.7 vs. 2.6) vs. the first week of the Athens Olympics.



  • The 6.4 average Monday-Friday household rating for Olympic Zone was double what the 42 stations carrying it in the metered markets averaged in the time period the prior 4 weeks.
  • 38 of the 42 markets saw improvement in the time period.



Through Sat., August 11, NBC’s 2012 London Olympic games have won their time period across 99.5% of all quarter-hours during Primetime (2,617 of 2,630 QH’s); and beat the COMBINED competition across 96% of all quarter-hours during Primetime (2,536 of 2,630 QH’s across the NBC Owned Television Stations).

  • During the 2012 London Olympic Games, the NBC Local Late newscasts averaged a 7.9 household rating and a 4.6 among adults 25-54 across the NBC Owned Television Stations; more than doubling the recent July 2012 sweep average (3.5 household rating and 1.5 for adults 25-54); and nearly beating the combined late News competition as well (8.4 household rating and 3.3 for adults 25-54).
  • NBC’s Olympic Zone Show averaged an impressive 5.9 RHH / 2.9 RA25-54 across the NBC Owned Television Stations. NBC’s Olympic Zone Show beat nearly all Primetime programming on the competition as well.




For the first week of the London Games, TODAY posted its biggest total viewer audience since the week of November 7, 2011 while posting its largest advantage over GMA since the week of February 22, 2010 (second week of Vancouver Winter Olympics). During that week, on Friday, August 3, TODAY posted its biggest single-day gap over GMA since August 21, 2008 (second week of Beijing Summer Olympics). TODAY also had its best key demo A25-54 advantage over GMA in a year and a half.

  • Compared to the same week-over-week lift that TODAY gained in Beijing, TODAY’s first week in London increased by 8 percentage points (from 31 to 39%). TODAY’s week-to-week gains during its first week at the London Olympics outperformed similar week-one growth for both Beijing (2008) and Athens (2004).
  • For the second week of the London Games, according to Nielsen national fast program ratings for Monday, August 6 through Thursday, August 9, TODAY has grown its total viewer advantage over GMA versus the first week of the Games. Compared to the same week-over-week lift that TODAY experienced in Beijing, TODAY’s second week in London has increased its advantage gap over GMA by 12 percentage points.



“NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams” posted historic ratings during the London Olympics, including: the best ever total viewer advantage over the competition; the best ever A25-54 advantage over ABC; larger audiences than comparable weeks in Beijing and Athens; wider advantages over ABC compared to last two summer Olympics.

Friday, the night of Opening Ceremony, as Brian Williams anchored from London:

  • Nightly averaged 9.213 million viewers, up 16% (+1.270 million) in total viewers versus its delivery on the comparable Opening Ceremony night in Beijing (Fri 8/8/08, 7.943 million viewers).


Sunday July 29 “NBC Nightly News,” as Brian Williams anchored from London:

  • Nightly delivered 14.469 million total viewers, its best total viewer delivery since February 12, 2006 (Torino Winter Olympic Games), and best total viewer advantage over World News Sunday since August 10, 2008 (Beijing Olympics).


For the first full week of the London Olympics (Monday, July 30 – Friday, August 3):

  • Nightly delivered 10.849 million total viewers, its best ever total viewer advantage over both ABC World News and CBS Evening News (since at least the start of People Meters in Sep ’87).
  • Versus the comparable time of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2004 Athens Olympics, Nightly posted increases in both total viewers and in its total viewer advantage over ABC.
  • Nightly averaged 3.346 million A25-54 (000) viewers, beating World News by +1,612,000 viewers, the best ever viewer advantage (since at least the start of People Meters). In addition, Nightly beat CBS Evening News by +1,722,00 viewers, its best advantage since the week of March 31, 2003.



1. Salt Lake City 25.0/45
2. Kansas City 22.5/37
3. Milwaukee 22.3/37
4. Denver 22.1/42
5. Columbus, OH 21.9/36
6. Norfolk 21.2/33
7. Indianapolis 20.9/36
T8. San Diego 20.8/37
T8. West Palm Beach 20.8/34
10. Richmond 20.6/33
11. Albuquerque-Santa Fe 20.3/34
12. Portland, OR 20.0/41
13. Minneapolis-St. Paul 19.9/38
14. Oklahoma City 19.8/32
T15. Atlanta 19.7/32
T15. Austin 19.7/35
T17. San Francisco 19.6/39
T17. Washington, D.C. 19.6/36
T17. Sacramento 19.6/37
T20. Nashville 19.4/30
T20. Ft. Myers 19.4/35
22. St. Louis 19.0/32
23. Los Angeles 18.8/35
24. New Orleans 18.5/27
25. Greensboro-High Point 18.4/29
T26. New York 18.2/31
T26. Chicago 18.2/32
T26. Phoenix 18.2/31
T26. Knoxville 18.2/29
T26. Tulsa 18.2/29
T31. Cleveland 18.1/30
T31. Jacksonville 18.1/29
T33. Seattle-Tacoma 17.9/36
T33. Louisville 17.9/30
35. Orlando-Daytona Beach 17.8/31
36. Cincinnati 17.7/30
37. Philadelphia 17.6/29
38. Dallas-Ft. Worth 17.4/31
T39. Detroit 17.3/29
T39. San Antonio 17.3/27
41. Memphis 17.2/26
42. Baltimore 17.1/28
43. Pittsburgh 16.9/29
44. Boston 16.8/31
T45. Houston 16.7/29
T45. Hartford-New Haven 16.7/28
T47. Birmingham 16.6/25
T47. Buffalo 16.6/29
49. Las Vegas 16.5/28
50. Greenville-Spartanburg 16.2/26
51. Miami-Ft. Lauderdale 16.1/27
T52. Tampa-St. Petersburg 15.8/29
T52. Providence-New Bedford, RI 15.8/27
T52. Dayton 15.8/26
55. Raleigh-Durham 14.9/24
56. Charlotte 13.9/24



Mountain 20.3/36
Pacific 19.1/36
Central 18.6/31
Eastern 17.8/30