Opening Ceremonies. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)

That’s nearly 6 million more people than had watched NBC’s coverage of the Beijing Games opener, and 15 million more than watched the Athens opener, which was the most recent Summer Olympics held in Europe.

More to the point, the opening of the Summer Games in Atlanta clocked 39.8 million viewers.

For NBC, the opening produced the highest rated Friday night on any network in more than a decade.

And now you know why NBC did not stream the Opening Ceremony, but made people wait to watch it via NBC in primetime -- a decision which had some viewers, and lots of Reporters Who Cover Television, pretty knicker-knotted.

“This audience number for the London Opening Ceremony is a great early sign that our strategy of driving people to watch NBC in primetime is working,” NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus said Saturday in a statement.

That’s known at a nose-thumbing quote.

In the so-called “metered markets,” which include some of country’s biggest TV markets, Washington was ranked No. 2 for highest ratings during the Opening Ceremony, behind only San Diego.


1. London – 2012 40.7 Million NBC

2. Atlanta – 1996 39.8 Million NBC

3. Beijing - 2008 34.9 Million NBC

4. Sydney – 2000 27.3 Million NBC

5. Athens – 2004 25.4 Million NBC

6. Seoul – 1988 22.7 Million NBC

7. Barcelona – 1992 21.6 Million NBC