Photo via OnScene.TV.
Photo via OnScene.TV.

Viewership for NBC’s prime-time Summer Olympics coverage is down significantly from the record figures of four years ago but substantially ahead of the competition.

NBC averaged 26.7 million viewers for its first three nights of Summer Olympics coverage, 25.4 percent less than the record 35.8 million average for the first three nights of coverage of the 2012 London Games, according to live- plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen today.

Friday’s opening ceremony averaged 26.49 million viewers, 34.8 percent less than the record 40.65 million average from 2012. NBC anticipates a 7 percent increase in viewership from delayed viewing.

NBC presented the first live stream of an opening ceremony for American viewers which generated 42 million minutes of streaming, the second most for an NBC Olympic stream behind the U.S.-Canada semifinal men’s hockey game in the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

Saturday’s prime-time coverage averaged 20.63 million viewers, 28.1 percent less than the record 28.72-million average for the first Saturday of competition in the 2012 Games.

Sunday’s prime-time Olympics coverage was the most-watched prime-time program between Aug. 1 and Sunday, averaging 29.78 million viewers, 17.4 percent less than the 36.05 million average for the first Sunday of the 2012 Olympics, the second most for the first Sunday of a summer Olympics.

NBC’s digital platforms on Sunday had 12.2 million unique users, a 24- percent increase from 2012, and 231 million live and replay streaming minutes, a 307-percent increase from the comparable day in 2012, both records.

Factors cited by NBC for the declining broadcast viewership is that these are the first Summer Olympics in U.S. television history with broadcast network coverage, including prime time, being streamed simultaneously on digital platforms and cable coverage opposite the prime-time broadcast coverage.

One example of how NBC’s Olympics coverage has overwhelmed the competition is that NBC’s 7.8 rating for the first three nights among viewers ages 18-49, the group NBC, ABC and Fox target and advertisers covet, is 500 percent higher that the combined rating for the other three major broadcast networks.

NBC averaged 15.28 million viewers for the week, the most by any network since CBS averaged 25.17 million viewers for the week of Feb. 1-7 when its programming included Super Bowl 50, the third most-watched program in U.S. television history.

NBC has been the most-watched network for six consecutive weeks.

In addition to the three Olympics telecasts topping the week’s viewership, NBC also had the week’s two most-watched non-Olympics programs, the Tuesday and Wednesday editions of “America’s Got Talent,” which were fourth and fifth for the week, averaging 11.57 million viewers and 9.39 million.

An “America’s Got Talent” episode has been the most-watched entertainment program all 10 weeks it has aired this summer.

The week’s only other programs to average more than 8 million viewers were the season finale of the ABC dating series, “The Bachelorette,” sixth for the week, averaging 8.58 million and “The Bachelorette: After The Final Rose,” which followed and was seventh for the week, averaging 8.11 million.

ABC was second for the week, averaging 4.14 million, followed by CBS, which averaged 3.94 million.

Fox remained mired in fourth place among the major broadcast networks, averaging 1.72 million viewers for its 17th consecutive fourth-place finish among the major broadcast networks.

Fox was fifth overall, trailing Fox News Channel, which averaged 2.2 million to be the most-watched cable network for the eighth time in nine weeks.

The TNT crime drama “Rizzoli & Isles” was the most-watched cable program, averaging 4.09 million viewers, 25th overall.

The week’s most-watched Spanish-language program was the Tuesday episode of the Univision telenovela “Un Camino Hacia El Destino” which averaged 2.18 million viewers, 80th overall.

As usual, Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network, averaging 1.63 million viewers. Telemundo was second, averaging 1.42 million, followed by UniMas, which averaged 490,000, Estrella TV, which averaged 170,000, Azteca America, which averaged 90,000, and MundoMax, which averaged 60,000.

The “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt,” was the most-watched network nightly newscast for the fourth consecutive week, averaging 7.98 million viewers. ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” was second, averaging 7.73 million.

The “CBS Evening News” was third, as it has been throughout Scott Pelley’s more than five years as anchor, averaging 6.26 million viewers.

The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were NBC’s coverage of the Summer Olympics Sunday, the opening ceremony and Saturday; the Tuesday and Wednesday editions of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent”; ABC’s “The Bachelorette” and “The Bachelorette: After The Final Rose”; CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory,” “NCIS” and the Thursday episode of “Big Brother.”

–City News Service

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