2012 Olympics: NBC's London Coverage Beats Beijing on 15 of 16 Nights


With only the final day left to tally, NBC's primetime coverage of the London Games neared an almost complete audience sweep over the Beijing Olympics, while the 2012 competition appeared poised to become the most-watched event in U.S. TV history.
Through 16 days, London averaged 31.1 million viewers in primetime, making it the most-watched non-U.S. Summer Olympics since the Montreal Games  in 1976, according to Nielsen data. The audience was 12% above the 27.7 million from the 2008 Games and 25% greater than the 24.9 million viewers for the 2004 Athens Olympics.
NBC's 17.6 household rating/30 share average was 9% higher than the first 16 nights in Beijing (16.2/28) and 16% greater than Athens' 15.2/27.
NBC's Aug. 11 primetime coverage drew 21.8 million viewers, the most-watched final Saturday of competition for a non-U.S. Summer Olympics since the Seoul Games in 1988. The telecast marked the 15th time in 16 nights that the Peacock's average viewership for London surpassed Beijing. Last night's average viewership bested Beijing (16.8 million) and the Athens (18.0 million) by 30% and 18%, respectively, with the former marking London's biggest audience advantage over the 2008 quadrennium.
NBC's primetime Games coverage from 9 p.m.-11:25 p.m. (ET/PT) scored a 12.6/23 national rating/share, the highest-rated final Saturday night of competition for a non-U.S. Summer Olympics since 1992 (Barcelona). The 12.6 rating was 22% higher than the Beijing's10.3/19, and 14% above Athens' 11.1/21).
NBC's Friday night's primetime coverage averaged 22.5 million viewers, the most-watched second Friday of competition for non-U.S. Summer Olympics since Seoul's 23.5 million.
The Aug. 10 coverage, which featured the U.S. women winning gold in the 4x100 meters and the U.S. men taking silver in the 4x400 meters,  topped the comparable night from the Beijing by 26% (17.9 million) and Athens' 20.1 million by 12%.
Measured over the first 15 days from London, the networks of NBCUniversal - NBC, NBC Sports Network, Telemundo, MSNBC, CNBC and Bravo - reached 212.7 million viewers who had watched some part of the Games. That was 4 million more than the 208.7 million from Beijing at the same stage. The 2008 Olympics ranks as the most-watched TV event in U.S. history, with London second - the 2012 competition moved past the 1996 Atlanta Games' 209 million - for now.