Ryan Lochte scored goal and so did NBC, which posted the most-watched opening night of competition and the best two-night total to start a Summer Games.
NBC's taped telecast from 8:30 p.m.-11:28 p.m. (ET/PT) on July 28 -- anchored by Lochte's gold-medal performance in the 400 meter individual medley that left Michael Phelps in fourth and off the podium -- drew 28.7 million viewers on average, according to Nielsen data. That was 9% more than the 26.3 million who watched the first night of the Atlanta Games in 1996, according to NBC officials, 19.6% above the 24 million from the Beijing Games in 2008 and 45% greater than the 19.8 million from the 2004 Athens Olympics, the last time the quadrennial played out in Europe.
Representing the best start to a Summer Olympics on record, NBC's two-day primetime average of 35.6 million viewers exceeded Atlanta's 33.3 million average by almost 7%, and Beijing's 29.5 million by 20.7%.
The network's 15.8 national rating/29 share marked a 14% improvement over the 13.9/27 for the initial night from Beijing, which showcased live coverage of the Phelps's first of eight gold medals. It also stands as the best for a non-U.S. Summer Olympics opening night since ABC's coverage of the Montreal Games in 1976. The rating for NBC's July 28 telecast was 34% above the 11.8/23 notched by the Athens competition eight years ago.
Peacock Olympics executives also had reason to preen about NBC's results from other dayparts. In its 9:46 a.m. to noon (ET/PT) window, NBC averaged 12.3 million viewers, 56% amelioration over the 7.9 million watchers for the first Saturday morning in Beijing from 10 a.m. to noon. The 7.9/22 was 49% higher than the 5.3/16 during the comparable morning in 2008.
NBC's Saturday afternoon coverage from noon to 6 p.m. averaged a 9.3/23 share and 14.9 million viewers, respective gains of 19% and 20%, over Beijing. In late-night from 12:30-1:18 a.m. (ET/PT), NBC averaged a 4.9/15 and 7.4 million viewers, increases of 29% and 35%, respectively from the 2008 Games.
Comcast's broadcast network posed a 3.6/16 and 5.1 million viewers for the early-morning window of 5 a.m.-9:46 a.m. (ET/PT). There is no comparable coverage for this time period in previous Games.
AVERAGE VIEWERS FOR 1st NIGHT OF COMPETITION (ALL SUMMER GAMES ON RECORD):
1. London - 201228.7 Million NBC
2. Atlanta - 199626.3 Million NBC
3. Beijing - 2008 24.0 Million NBC
4. Seoul - 198823.8 Million NBC
5. Barcelona - 199221.6 Million NBC
6. Sydney - 200021.0 Million NBC
7. Athens - 2004 19.8 Million NBC
TOP 20 METERED MARKETS FOR LAST NIGHT:
1. Salt Lake City 23.9/46
2. San Diego 22.8/43
3. Kansas City 22.4/42
4. Columbus 21.5/39
5. Ft. Myers 21.3/40
6. Milwaukee 20.6/38
7. Denver 20.5/44
8. Indianapolis 20.4/39
9. Sacramento 20.2/41
10. Nashville 19.6/34
11. Oklahoma City 19.2/32
12. St. Louis 18.9/35
13. Richmond 18.7/33
14. Portland 18.5/41
T15. San Francisco 18.4/40
T15. Boston 18.4/36
T17. Norfolk 18.3/30
T17. Albuquerque 18.3/34
T17. Jacksonville 18.3/31
20. Phoenix 18.1/32
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