FIRST TAKE: Looks like it’s going to be a ratings Silver medal for NBCs coverage last night of the 2014 Olympics Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Hosted for NBC by Today’s Matt Lauer and his former morning partner Meredith Vieira, the network’s primetime tape-delayed coverage of the XXII Olympic Winter Games Opening Ceremony garnered a 18.5/30 in metered-market results. That’s down 8% from the 20.0/33 overnight rating that the live 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony drew on February 12 that year. However, last night’s result is an 26% rise from the 14.7/23 overnight that the last tape-delayed Winter Games Opening Ceremony from Torino got in 2006. Still, on a night of almost all repeats on every other network but Fox, the Opening Ceremony guarantees NBC a Gold medal in terms of ratings and viewership for Friday. Check out the Top 10 markets for last night’s Opening Ceremony below (nice one Minneapolis).
UPDATE: The final numbers are in, and NBC’s Sochi Opening Ceremony 8PM -11PM coverage drew 31.7 million viewers, posting a 17.0 rating in households and a 8.7 rating among adults 18-49. That’s a slip of 3% in viewership, 2% in households and 7% in 18-49 from the Opening Ceremony of Vancouver 2010, which aired live. For a tape-delayed Winter Games opening ceremony, last night’s telecast from Sochi was the second most watched ever behind the Lillehammer opening festivities in 1994 (33.8 million) and ahead of Nagano 1998 (27.2 million), Albertville 1992 (24 million) and Torino 2006 (22.2 million). The overall Winter Olympics champ is still the kickoff of the Salt Lake City games on February 8, 2002. In a time before smartphones, tablets and multi-platform streaming that domestic Opening Ceremony had a 25.5/42 rating and pulled in 45.6 million viewers for NBC. Salt Lake still stands as the most watched OP ever Winter or Summer Olympics, coming out ahead of the 2012 London Games which had a U.S. audience of 40.7 million.
Despite a well-watched bonus day on February 6, the Opening Ceremony actually officially kicked off the Sochi Games last night. The ceremony followed back-to-back Bob Costas’ interviews with President Obama and former Olympian and torchbearer Maria Sharapova – the pro tennis player lived in Sochi as a child. There were no pop stars like in Vancouver or the 2012 London Summer Games but the Opening Ceremony last night did have DJs and a lot of Russian history. Yes, the organizers bypassed the bad bits but amidst the pageantry there were giant skating mascots of a polar bear, a hare and a leopard, a symbolic baby boom, some Tolstoy, some space race, Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, a ton of performers and fireworks and lot of flag waving from the host country and all the nations participating. Today, the athletes go for their medals. The Winter Games run until the 23rd.
Besides a 20/20 (1.2/4, down 29% from last week) on ABC, Fox was the only network to go up against the Olympics with originals last night. And, all things considered, it weathered the storm pretty well. With Sochi as competition and a Bones repeat, as opposed to an original last week, as a lead-in, Fox’s 9PM Enlisted (0.7/2) was down 13% from last week. Enlisted’s 9:30PM lead-out Raising Hope (0.6/2) held even with its January 31st show.)
Top 10 Markets For XXII Olympic Winter Games Opening Ceremony
1) Minneapolis – 26.0/45
2) Salt Lake City – 24.4/43
3) Ft. Myers – 21.7/34
4) Chicago – 21.6/34
5) Boston - 21.5/37
6) Kansas City - 21.5/34
7) Milwaukee – 20.7/35
8) Denver – 20.5/36
9) Portland – 20.4/33
10) Buffalo - 20.4/33