NBC's primetime coverage of the 2012 London Games returned to the top of the podium on Sunday night, when measured against the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The Peacock's Aug. 5 primetime telecast, highlighted by Jamaica's Usain Bolt reasserting himself as the world's fastest human by defending his 100-meter crown and American Carmelita Jeter taking the gold medal in the 400 meters, averaged 31.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen data. That was the best for a middle Sunday for a non-U.S. Summer Olympics since 35 million wached the Montreal Olympics on ABC in 1976.
Sunday night's viewership was up 15% from the 27.2 million for the comparable night at the Beijing Olympics and 20% from the 26 million from corresponding night at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
The delivery was the seventh night the London Games drew an average audience of at least 30 million, matching the total for the two most recent Summer Olympics -- five in China, two in Greece. It also reversed the downturn NBC experienced on Aug. 4, when its primetime telecast dipped below the second Saturday night in Beijing, the only time London has not measured up to that quadrennium.
Sunday's taped primetime coverage on NBC from 7:30 p.m.-11:29 p.m. (ET/PT) averaged a 17.5/29 national rating/share, 9% higher than the comparable night from Beijing (16.0/27), and 11% higher than the corresponding night from Athens (15.8/28), the last European Olympics.
Through the first 10 days, the London Games averaged 33.6 million viewers in primetime, and a household rating of 18.8/32, making it the most-watched and highest-rated non-U.S. Summer Olympics since ABC's presentation from Montreal.
The 10-day average primetime viewership of 33.6 million viewers was 12% and 3.7 million more viewers than Beijing's 29.9 million and 28% and 7.4 million above the first 10 nights from Athens' 26.2 million. The 18.8/32 was 9% greater than the first 10 nights from Beijing's 17.3/30, and a 19% increase over Athens' 15.8/28.
NBC's Sunday morning coverage -- which aired live across all U.S. time zones, featured Andy Murray avenging his loss to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final on July 8 by dismantling the Swiss to win an Olympic gold medal on Centre Court at the Big W -- aced a 5.5 rating/17 share and 8.2 million viewers. That followed the 5.6/18 share and 7.9 million viewers for Serena Williams' rout of Maria Sharapova in the women's gold-medal tennis match on Saturday morning. Both matches easily exceeded ESPN's presentations from the 2012 fortnight at The Championships and NBC's finals presentations from Wimbledon over the prior decade.