Olympics Opening Ceremony Ratings Down From Sochi 2014, Up From Rio


Updated, 2:10 pm: NBC’s coverage of the Opening Ceremony for the XXIII Winter Olympics clocked a Total Audience Delivery average of 28.3 million viewers, to rank as the most-watched Friday night program on any network since the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

That’s according to Live + Same Day fast national data released today by Nielsen, and digital data from Adobe Analytics. Nielsen’s “out of home” viewership will be available early next week.

That total viewer stat puts the PyeongChang Opening Ceremony behind Sochi’s Opening Ceremony crowd of 31.7 million viewers, and Lillehammer’s 33.8 million, airing on CBS, in 1994.

Similar to the metered market results of earlier today, Opening Ceremony viewership on NBC peaked at 31.5 million from 9-9:15 PM ET, as Team USA entered during the Parade of Nations.

NBC’s 14.7/27 primetime household rating for the Opening Ceremony outperformed by 167% the combined rating of ABC, CBS and FOX for the night (5.5).

Previously, 7:16 am: The actual white tiger and K-Pop filled Opening Ceremony of the XXIII Winter Olympics occurred early on Friday morning in PyeongChang and was widely streamed and disseminated by the time NBC put on its primetime show last night.

But with geopolitical tensions, VIP seating plans, 1,200 pre-recorded morphing drones, VR and the newly minted team of Katie Couric and Mike Tirico, the Comcast-owned net made the event seem almost as brand new and sparkling as the ice beneath 2010 figure skating Olympic champion Yuna Kim when she lit the cauldron at the end of the live across all time zones extravaganza.

Still, despite thousands of performances, a distinct injection of imagination and that always trivia filled Parade of Nations, and coming off a less than gold initial and unofficial first day, NBC came up short in the ratings, again

In metered market results and with very little competition from the rest of the Big 4, the more than three and a half hour Opening Ceremony coverage of the South Korea-set Games snared a 16.9/5 rating.

Nowhere near even a bronze medal, that’s down 9% from what the February 7, 2014 Opening Ceremony of the XXII Winter Olympics from Sochi delivered in the early numbers. In fact last night’s coverage of the opener of the 2018 Winter Olympics currently stands as the 11th high rated non-U.S. Olympic opening ever.

Fronted by Olympics first timer Tirico and now four-time Opening Ceremony vet Couric, last night’s coverage hit its high in the 9 – 915 PM ET slot with a 18.6/31 as Team USA entered the stadium in South Korea.

In the final numbers, the Sochi Opening Ceremony pulled in drew 31.7 million viewers and an 8.7 rating among adults 18-49. A result that was a slip of 3% in viewership and 7% in 18-49 from the Opening Ceremony of Vancouver 2010,

Having said that, while its not quite winter apples to winter apples, the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang Olympics actually made it just across the finish line ahead of the Rio Summer Olympics of 2016. Last night’s shindig was up just over 2% in MM ratings over the tape-delayed opener from Brazil just under two years ago.

Elsewhere on broadcast Friday night, the CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (0.2 in adults 18-49; 620,000 viewers) and Jane the Virgin (0.3; 790,000) both held steady, with the latter actually increasing its audience to hit a season-high Live+same day viewership.

CBS’ Olympics counter-programming, Big Brother: Celebrity Edition, drew the biggest non-Olympics numbers of the night, 1.0 in adults 18-49, 4.3 million viewers while dropping -29% from Thursday in the demo. (1.8, 1.4, 1.0 for its three editions to date).

Following a Charlie Brown Valentine Day special (0.6, 2.8 million), Child Support (0.4, 2.2 million) hit a season lows in its finale. Fox reran the Who Shot Biggie and Tupac? special.

We’ll update with more Opening Ceremony numbers and more from the actual events and medalling of the 2018 Winter Olympics later. While you wait, here is the list of top non-U.S. Olympics Opening Ceremonies, and we warn you, there are a couple of ties:



1. London – 2012 23.0/40 NBC
2. Beijing – 2008 21.5/37 NBC
3. Lillehammer – 1994 21.0/34 CBS
4. Vancouver – 2010 20.0/33 NBC
5. Nagano – 1998 18.6/30 CBS
6. Sydney – 2000 18.5/32 NBC (tied with Sochi 2014 – NBC)
7. Seoul – 1988 18.3/33 NBC
8. Athens – 2004 18.0/30 NBC
9. Sarajevo – 1984 17.2/27 ABC
10. Calgary – 1988 17.0/40 ABC
11. PyeongChang – 2018 16.9/29 NBC
12. Barcelona – 1992 16.5/32 NBC (tied with Rio 2016 – NBC)
13. Albertville – 1992 16.0/26 CBS
14. Torino – 2006 14.7/23 NBC

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