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NBC’s Olympics coverage was most-watched TV event in US history

14th August 2012

Network says 219m people watched London 2012 Games, despite complaints over scheduling

NBC’s TV coverage of the London Olympics was the most-watched television event in US history, attracting 219.4m viewers, the network has said.

Despite complaints during the Games of delays in broadcasting popular events until primetime hours, problems with online streaming and edited versions of the opening and closing ceremony, NBC said that more people watched the 2012 Olympics on television than the 215m who tuned in for the Beijing Games in 2008.

NBC said it also smashed online records, recording nearly 2bn page views and 159m video streams of its Olympics coverage.

NBC, a unit of cable operator Comcast Corp, paid $1.18bn for US broadcast rights to the London Olympics, and executives said earlier this month they expected to break even because of the strong TV ratings.

The network, which showed a record 5,535 hours of sports and ceremonies across multiple broadcast and cable networks and online, said its primetime TV coverage averaged 31.1m viewers over the 17 nights of the Games.

That made London the most-watched summer Olympics held outside the US since Montreal in 1976.

The NBC Universal chief executive, Steve Burke, said in a statement that the results “exceeded all our expectations in viewership, digital, consumption and revenue”.

After coming under fire on social media for making Americans wait hours to watch the opening ceremony from London, NBC streamed the closing ceremony on Sunday live online.

But it was criticised for interrupting its tape-delayed primetime evening coverage of the closing ceremony to show a preview of its new comedy Animal Practice.

NBC said around 12.8m Americans stayed tuned for the commercial-free preview episode of Animal Practice – one of the network’s new fall TV shows.

NBC later resumed coverage of the later stages of the closing ceremony but edited out performances by Ray Davies, and Muse’s rendition of the official London 2012 theme song Survival. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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