Olympics Opening, First Night Set Records

NBC draws 28.7 million viewers for first night of competition

NBC had the most-watched Olympics Summer Games opening ceremony and first night of competition for a non-U.S. Summer Games on record.

The opening ceremony had 40.7 million viewers and scored a 21.0 national rating and 37 share. The first night of competition had 28.7 million average viewers and 15.8/29 national rating.

The opening narrowly beat the ratings for the Atlanta Games opening, and beat Beijing by 6 million. It also had 15 million more viewers than the 2004 Athens Olympics (25.4 million), the last European Olympics. The ceremony also had 16 million more viewers than the Athens Olympics (25.4 million) the last European Olympics.

The first night of competition beat Atlanta's first night by more than 2 million and Beijing's by nearly 5 million. It beat Athens' first night of competition by nearly 9 million.

“This audience number for the London Opening Ceremony is a great early sign that our strategy of driving people to watch NBC in primetime is working," said NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus. "We look forward to the next 16 nights of compelling Olympic competition.”

The high viewership is also good news for NBC as it tries to use the Olympics to launch its fall schedule. It will air two commercial-free episodes of upcoming sitcoms during the Games and plans a barrage of promos for its shows.