Americans may be burning up Twitter and Facebook complaining about NBC's Olympics coverage, especially the fact that winners are known to the world way before they show up on TV, but the network is drawing viewers nonetheless.
NBC's primetime coverage Monday night (8-11:23 p.m. ET/PT) drew 31.6 million viewers, the most for the first Monday of a non-U.S. Summer Games in 36 years (37.7 million for Montreal in 1976).
Last night’s viewership was 1.4 million more than the first Monday night of the 2008 Beijing Olympics (30.2 million), and 4.5 million more than the first night of the 2004 Athens Olympics (27.1 million), the last European Summer Olympics.
Through the first Monday of the London Olympics, NBC averaged 34.8 million viewers, the most of any Summer Olympics in history (since the first televised Olympics in 1960). The 34.8 million topped the 1996 Atlanta Olympics (34.5 million), is 4.3 million more viewers than Beijing (30.5 million) and 10.1 million more than Athens (24.7 million).
Last night’s competition on NBC, which featured a gold medal for the U.S. in the 100m backstroke and the finals of the men’s gymnastics all-around, earned a 18.0/29 national rating/share, two percent higher than the first Sunday night of the Beijing Olympics (17.6/29), which featured live coverage of three swimming gold medals, including Michael Phelps’ third in three nights.