NBC on Saturday night took its first step backward with the London Games compared to the Beijing Olympics.
The Peacock's August 4 primetime telecast, featuring the last of Michael Phelps' record 22 Olympics medals as part of America's gold-winning 4 x 100 individual medley relay squad averaged 28 million, down 11% from the second Saturday night of the 2008 Games in China, according to Nielsen data, but up 24% from the 22.5 million from the corresponding night at the Athens Olympics, the last time the quadrennium was hosted on The Continent.
Last night's primetime coverage on NBC from 8:30 p.m.-11:15 p.m.( ET/PT) garnered a 15.9/26 national rating/share, 17% higher than the 13.6/28 on the comparable night at the Athens Olympics (13.6/28), but also down 11% from Beijing's 17.8/32 on what was the fourth highest-rated night of competition for those Games.
The results were not unexpected. NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus on an August 2 media conference call from London said Saturday night would be a tough Nielsen matchup for the 2012 Games, given that Phelps captured his eighth gold medal on that night in Beijing, which also saw Dana Torres win a silver medal at age 41 and Usain Bolt burst onto the world stage with a record-setting gold medal performance in the 100-meter sprint.
Through nine days, 194.7 million people have watched some portion of the 2012 Olympics on the networks of NBCUniversal, 3.5 million more than Beijing (191.2) over the corresponding span. London, which has scored 18 million more viewers over the nine days than the 176.9 million for Athens, appears likely to unseat Beijing as the most-watched event in U.S. television history with 215 million viewers
In primetime, NBC averaged 33.9 million viewers, the most of any non-U.S. Summer Olympics since the 1976 Montreal Olympics, through nine airings. That average stands 12% and 3.7 million more viewers ahead of Beijing's 30.2 million and 29% and 7.7 million more than Athens' 26.2 million.
The nine-night average household rating of 18.9/32 stands as the best for any non-U.S. Summer Olympics since the 1976 Games in Montreal. That mark is 9% and 20% greater than the 17.4/30 and 15.8/28 for Beijing and Athens, respectively, according to Nielsen data.
Serena Williams' 6-0, 6-1 rout of Maria Sharapova in the gold-medal tennis match from Centre Court at Wimbledon drew averaged a 5.6/18 share and 7.9 million viewers from 9 a.m. to 10:30 (ET) on Saturday, easily surpassing ESPN's presentations from the 2012 fortnight at The Big W and was the most for any of NBC's final presentations at The Championships over the prior decade.