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Rio Olympics Competition Ratings Open 32 Percent Lower Than London

Saturday night draws 19.5 million total viewers

The Olympics are good for business — if the business you’re in is selling TV commercials at a premium, of course.

Fortunately for NBC, that’s exactly the sandbox broadcast plays in, and the Comcast-owned channel nabbed 19.5 million total viewers last night, per TVByTheNumbers. Generally speaking, that’s a lot.

Un-fortunately for the network, the impressive sum was still down 32 percent from London’s opening evening of competition in 2012. The four-years-ago start drew a whopping 28.7 million overall audience members. To be fair to NBC, live TV viewing takes a hit with every year that passes.

Night No. 1 of the 2016 Rio version drew a 5.5 Nielsen rating in the key 18-49 demographic, predictably squashing anything else on broadcast. For what it’s worth, London had pulled a huge 8.8 on its comparable competition kickoff.

To add a bit more perspective to last night’s NBC dominance, the next-highest-rated show was a “48 Hours” rerun on CBS, which managed a 0.4 and 2.6 million viewers. So the gold medal is a bit tarnished these days, but it’s still way better than silver.

Read about Friday’s opening ceremony TV ratings here. Those too were down substantially from 2012.