NBC Grabs Early Ratings Beijing Victory

NBC claimed major success with its Beijing Olympics in its first two days of the 16-day event.

NBC said the opening ceremony on Friday night in Beijing was the most-viewed ever for a non-U.S. Summer Olympics. NBC earned a Nielsen Media Research 21.5 rating/37 share--19% higher than four years ago in Athens, where those ceremonies earned a Nielsen 18.0 rating/30 share. Beijing was also 16% above Sydney in 2000 (18.5/32).

Beijing also earned an average 34.2 million viewers--the best since Atlanta, which earned 39.4 million in 1996. Beijing also bested recent non-U.S. Olympics ceremonies--Sydney in 2000 had 27.3 million and Athens in 2004 had 25.4 million.

NBC earned a 10.1 rating among 18-49 viewers. In the past, non-U.S. Olympics, especially those in Asia, usually do not do as well as those in Europe.

Saturday, the second day of the Olympics, continued to see good results. For NBC's prime-time show--8:30 p.m. to 11:49 p.m.--Nielsen preliminary audience measurement yielded a 13.9 rating/27 share, an 18 percent improvement from 2004 Athens Games which posted an 11.8/23. Beijing's second night also pulled in 24.1 million average viewers--4.5 million more than Athens' second night, which tallied 19.8 million viewers.



In the past, NBC had offered for TV Olympic advertisers a household ratings guarantee based on 90% of the actual ratings. Although major deals were secure months ago, analysts believe TV advertisers may have gained ratings assurances in late Olympic media deals made in the recently concluded upfront negotiations in June.

Long-term TV sports advertisers are concerned that TV programmers are still making sports ratings guarantees based on older live-only program ratings.

For all other dayparts--prime-time, daytime, late-night, and early morning programming--TV advertisers get ratings commitments based on new commercial ratings plus three days of DVR playback. TV programmers say viewers watch sports virtually always on a live-only basis.

NBC's Beijing opening ceremony numbers were still behind recent U.S.-based Olympic ceremonies. Atlanta in 1996 earned a 23.6/45 and Los Angeles in 1984 earned a 23.9/48.

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