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Posted at 07:39 PM ET, 08/13/2012

NBC proclaims London Olympics most-watched television event in U.S. history


The Olympics flag is handed from London Mayor, Boris Johnson, second from left, to the International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge, center, next to the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro. (Jeff J Mitchell - AP)
Sunday’s Olympics finale was the most-watched Closing Ceremonies for a non-U.S. Summer Olympics in 36 years, NBC announced Monday.

Oh, and the London Games were the most-watched television event in U.S. history, the network proclaimed, thumbing its nose at the Reporters Who Cover Television, TV critics and charter members of #NBCFail who’d been in an uproar about NBC’s prime-time tape-delayed broadcasts of the competition and the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

In its accounting of its ratings performance on Sunday, of course, NBC is only counting the Closing Ceremonies from 8:30 to 10:58 p.m. ET/PT. That’s when Olympics anchor Bob Costas came on and told viewers that they could see more of the “London Closing Party” in about an hour — after NBC’s planned, ad-free unveiling of its new comedy, “Animal Practice,” and the late local news. The Closing Ceremonies actually wound up restarting about midnight.

For its trouble, “Animal Practice” attracted an average audience of about 13 million viewers. That’s a win for NBC.

Between 8:30 and 10:58 p.m., the Olympic wrap party logged an average of 31 million viewers.

Some Reporters Who Cover Television, TV critics and charter members of #NBCFail were particularly agitated over the editing of the Closing Ceremonies, which resulted in Americans being denied their right to see, among other things, George Michael sing a second song; the Royal Ballet; and Eric Idle singing “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” from the Monty Python flick “Life of Brian” — for which we are grateful.

“Gee, I can’t wait for the #ClosingCeremonies to be over so I can watch Animal Practice — No One Ever,” weighed in one #NBCFail charter member, in a fairly representative comment from that those using that Twitter hashtag.

“More than 219 million Americans watch the London Olympics on the networks of NBCUniversal,” the operation bragged Monday, though how NBC knows that everyone in those Nielsen homes watching the Games was a U.S. citizen, we cannot say.

Oh, and those 219 million are the number of people who “sampled” the Games, which includes people who only watched a few minutes over the coverage’s 17 days. Advertisers like that number because if you watched six minutes, say, you probably saw an ad break. Networks like those so-called “reach” numbers because it allows them to sling around gimongous numbers like 219 million people.

More to the point, an average of 31.1 million viewers watched the Games coverage on NBC in prime time, making it the most-watched Summer Olympics not staged in a U.S. city in 36 years — since the 1976 Montreal Games. That figure tops the most recent Summer Olympics, 2008’s Beijing Games (27.7 million), by 12 percent.

NBCUniversal presented a total of 5,535 hours of the London Olympics across NBC, NBC Sports Network, MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo, Telemundo, NBCOlympics.com, two speciality channels and a 3D channel.

For comparison’s sake, the record-holder had been the 2008 Games, in which NBC’s networks offered nearly 2,000 hours of coverage.

And as we say goodbye to our London Olympics TV-viewing experience, we leave NBC crowing, proud as a peacock, about its coverage that set digital records (nearly 2 billion page views and 159 million video streams). And in the distance, #NBCFail-ites shout: “NBC bragging about its record-breaking Olympics TV viewing is like a dictator who’s the only one on a ballot bragging about winning” — and other bons mots too numerous to mention.

By  |  07:39 PM ET, 08/13/2012

 
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