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Beijing Closing Ceremonies Have Best U.S. Ratings Since 1976 Games in Montreal

Posted on 25 August 2008 by Robert Seidman

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Well this will be one of the last of the NBC press-release fodder posts from the Olympic games in Beijing.  Particular thanks to the NBC team, especially the team in Beijing including Adam Freifeld for being so great about getting us the data.

Based on preliminary overnights (Nielsen ran into many delays today with last night for some reason, and the final numbers which would normally be available, are not) the closing ceremonies in Beijing with a 15.2 household rating were the highest-rated closing ceremonies for a non-U.S. hosted Olympics since the 1976 games in Montreal (which are still proably my most memorable Olympics).  Because of the Nielsen delays, we don’t know what the final Olympic tally was in terms of total-reach, though we already do know that with 211 million through 8/23, it set the record as the most-viewed Olympics or any other television event in U.S. history.  Based on the overnights, these closing ceremonies performed about 39% better ratings-wise than the Athens games in 2004.

Here’s the latest and most likely last (or next to last) press release via NBC.  Especially if you’re into top local market info, please read on:


      15.2 Rating for Closing Ceremony Best for Non-U.S. Summer Olympics Since 1976

      Beijing Games Most Viewed Event in U.S. Television History; *Total Viewers Available Tuesday, Aug. 26

       NEW YORK – Aug. 25, 2008 – NBC Universal’s Beijing Olympic coverage averaged 27.7 million viewers and scored a 17-day rating of 16.2/28 to post significant gains over the 2004 Athens Games.  Last night’s Closing Ceremony had the best rating for any Summer Olympics Closing Ceremony outside the U.S. since the 1976 Montreal Games.


(Due to Nielsen delays, a final total viewer result for the Beijing Games is not currently available, though the 16-day total through Saturday, Aug. 23 of 211 million has established these Olympics as the most-viewed event in U.S. television history, eclipsing the 209 million of the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games. A final total viewer result will be available tomorrow, Tuesday, Aug. 26.)


“This audience record is something I thought I’d never see again, but what really satisfied me is the way in which these Olympics truly captivated and seemed to inspire our country,” said Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Universal Sports & Olympics and Executive Producer of NBC Universal’s Beijing Olympics coverage.


“For me, the greatest measure of success at an Olympics is the number of messages I receive from parents of young kids who have fallen in love with the Olympics. That child means more to me than anything because I think a love affair with the Olympics is the greatest in all of sports.”


“It’s a privilege to have this job because it’s one of the few ways in which you can still reach families and children in a meaningful way. If you produce it the right way, the entire family will watch together.”




1.  2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, 211* million (16 days) 2. 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics, 209 million (17 days) 3. 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics, 204 million (16 days) 4.  2004 Athens Summer Olympics, 203 million (17 days) 5. 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics, 194 million (17 days) *Total viewers not available until Tuesday, Aug. 26




  • The Beijing Olympics 17-day average primetime viewership is 27.7 million, 13 percent ahead of Athens in 2004 (24.6 million) and is the best primetime average viewership for a complete Olympics outside the U.S since Montreal in 1976.


  • NBC’s average of a 16.2 rating, 28 share in households is an eight percent increase over Athens in 2004 (15.0/26) and the best rating for a Summer Olympics outside the U.S. since Barcelona in 1992 (17.1/33).


  • Sunday’s Closing Ceremony garnered 27.2 million average viewers, a 39 percent gain from the Closing Ceremony night in Athens (19.6 million). The night earned a 15.2 rating/24 share, a 28 percent increase from Athens (11.9/20). In both categories, the Closing Ceremony from Beijing was the best delivery for a Summer Olympics Closing Ceremony outside the U.S. since Montreal in 1976.


  • In primetime, NBC’s Beijing Games has won all 100-rated half-hours against its entire network competition. 

NBCOLYMPICS.COM ON MSN POSTS RECORD NUMBERS:  For the complete Beijing Games, has more than doubled the combined totals for the Athens and Torino Games in page views and unique users, while increasing videos streamed by more than seven times. 

  • VIDEO STREAMS: 75.5 million for Beijing, 10.8 million for Athens and Torino Games combined (+601%)
  • UNIQUE USERS: 51.9 million for Beijing, 25.2 million for Athens and Torino Games combined (+106%)
  • PAGE VIEWS: 1.24 billion for Beijing, 561.1 million for Athens and Torino Games combined (+122%)
  • HOUR OF VIDEO STREAMED: 9.9 million hours of video consumed through for Beijing Games is the equivalent of 1,126 years of video.


  • T1. Denver        23.1/40
  • T1. Salt Lake City      23.1/45
  • 3. Minneapolis          22.1/41
  • T4. Indianapolis  21.3/37
  • T4. San Diego           21.3/39
  • T6. Baltimore           21.1/35
  • T6. Oklahoma City 21.1/33
  • 8. Nashville            21.0/33
  • 9. Columbus, Ohio 20.4/35
  • 10. Portland, Ore.      20.2/41


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