Winter Olympics: Nearly 107 Million Tune in First Three Days of Sochi Coverage

More than 106 million Americans watched some part of the Winter Games on NBC, NBCSN and MSNBC during the first three days of coverage from Sochi, Russia.

According to Nielsen fast cume data, 106.5 million Americans -- more than one-third of the U.S. population -- tuned in Olympic action on the three networks on Thursday and Saturday and the Opening Ceremony on Friday night.

For the Friday Opening Ceremony and Saturday’s first-day coverage, a total of 97.3 Americans tuned – up from 96.7 million for the opening Friday and Saturday of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and 88.4 million for the 2006 Torino Games.

Preceding the Opening Ceremony, competition in men’s and women’s slopestyle snowboarding, team ice skating and women’s skiing moguls played out on Thursday, Feb. 6.

Presumably with the fast start, Sochi can take aim at being one of the most-watched Winter Olympics in history. Some 204 million watched part of CBS’s coverage from Lillehammer, Norway in 1994, when interest was fueled by the Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan controversy, while the Vancouver Games garnered 190 million watchers to stand second among Winter quadrenniums.

Sunday night’s primetime Olympics telecast on NBC, which featured the U.S. women's snowboard medal sweep, scored a 14.4 household rating/22 share from 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. (ET), up from the 14.3/23 for the network’s live (ET/CT) coverage of the opening Sunday of the 2010 Vancouver Games,  according to live + same-day fast national data. The Feb. 9 telecast averaged 26.3 million viewers, a slight dip from the 26.4 million for comparable night four years ago.

The Peacock’s Sochi Sunday primetime telecast was up 13% from 23.2 million in viewership and 8% from the 13.3/20 household rating from the opening Sunday in Torino in 2006, the last European Winter Olympics.

On the cable side, NBCSN on Sunday continued breaking network records for its first-ever Winter Olympics coverage, posting an average of 2.9 million viewers (6 a.m.-2:23 p.m. ET), more than double the 1.2 million during the same window on the opening Sunday of the 2012 London Olympics. As such, NBCSN registered its best daytime viewership for the second consecutive day, improving on Saturday’s 2.6 million average. 

Also for the second consecutive day, NBCSN set a record for the network’s most-watched event as its live presentation of men’s ski jumping averaged 5.5 million viewers from 1 p.m. to 2:23 p.m. Saturday’s coverage of team figure skating was the prior record holder with 4.9 million viewers.