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NBC claims third night of record ratings -- despite tape-delay complaints

The Baltimore Sun

The complaints about NBC not showing marquee events like swimming have not abated, but the network is claiming another night of record viewing Sunday night, based on preliminary overnights.

Meanwhile WBAL, the network's Baltimore affiliate, is boasting of its Friday night audience for the opening ceremonies.

The Hearst-owned station has been treating tape-delayed events as "spoilers," reporting on them only as a graphic flashed on the screen during the sports portion of its early evening newscasts -- and warning viewers to look away if they don't want to know. (Read my assessment of this "weird" way of reporting news here.)

Even though Baltimore failed to finish in the Top 20 Friday, Saturday or Sunday night for viewership, the station says 410,000 Maryland watched Friday's opening ceremonies.

That's a 22.9 rating and a 39 share in Maryland households, which is lower than I expected. That means only two our of every five households with sets turned on had them tuned to the opening ceremonies Friday night. But maybe my expectations were unduly high. I will hold off on judgment until I hear WBAL's assessment.

Complete national figures for Sunday night will be available here later today, and with this narrow a margin, it might turn out not to be a record audience for NBC Sunday night.

Either way, NBC is doing very well in the ratings, and as long as that continues, the tape delay strategy is not likely to change.

Here's the overnight email from NBC Sports. And note the viewing levels by time zone at the end of it. Viewing in the East is lowest, which might explain why WBAL is not showing up in the Top 20.

Final numbers and viewership data for prime time and daytime/late night will be available early afternoon ET. And note in the comparisons to Beijing that the coverage there was shown live in the east and central time zones, as opposed to the delay here.


Last night, the second night of competition, NBC drew a 21.7 overnight rating and 35 share (7-11:15 p.m. ET/PT), the best overnight rating for the first Sunday night for a non-U.S. Summer Olympics ever.

The 21.7 Overnight Rating and 35 Share is 2% higher than Beijing, 19% higher than Athens, the Last European Olympics.

Last night featured the Men’s 4x100 freestyle relay (U.S. silver medal), the women’s 100m butterfly (Dana Vollmer – gold medal and world record), the first U.S. diving medal in 12 years and the women’s gymnastics all-around qualifying. The overnight rating is 2% higher than the first night of competition for the opening Sunday night of the 2008 Beijing Olympics (21.3/35), when Michael Phelps won the second of his eight gold medals in the 4x100 freestyle relay.

Due to time zone differences, last night’s coverage was shown on delay in primetime but live on The first Sunday night in Beijing was live to the Eastern and Central time zones in the U.S. 


Last night’s overnight is 19% higher than the first Sunday night of competition at the 2004 Athens Games (18.3/29), the last European Olympics.


1. London - 2012
 21.7/35 NBC
2. Beijing – 2008                                
 21.3/35 NBC
3. Barcelona – 1992     
 20.9/36 NBC
4. Seoul – 1988                       
 20.1/34 NBC
5. Athens – 2004                               
 18.3/29 NBC
6. Sydney – 2000                             
 17.4/27 NBC



1. Los Angeles – 1984    
 26.9/50 ABC
2. Atlanta – 1996   
 26.0/44 NBC


1. Milwaukee                                     28.4/44

2. Salt Lake City                                 26.5/46

3. Kansas City                                     25.3/40

4. San Diego                                       25.2/44

5. Richmond                                       25.1/39

6. Columbus                                       25.0/40

7. Denver                                            24.5/44

8. Norfolk                                            24.3/37

9. Oklahoma City                              23.9/36

T10. Indianapolis                              23.6/38

T10. Minneapolis                              23.6/42

T12. Nashville                                    23.5/37

T12. St. Louis                                      23.5/38

14. Austin                                            23.3/40

15. Ft. Myers                                      23.0/39

16. West Palm Beach                      22.6/37

17. Albuquerque                              22.5/36

T18. Chicago                                       22.2/38

T18. Washington D.C.                     22.2/40

20. San Francisco                              21.8/44



Mountain            22.0/39

Pacific                   21.2/39

Central                 20.3/35

Eastern                 19.8/34

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