Lifestyle & Belief

Olympics: NBC sets opening ceremony records


LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: A giant set of Olympic rings are displayed from Tower Bridge on June 27, 2012 in London, England. The rings weigh over three tonnes and measure over 25 metres wide by 11.5 metres tall; they will be illuminated in a light-show every evening during the Games. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)


Oli Scarff

NBC's Friday Olympics opening ceremony coverage may not have been anyone's favorite, but a record 40.7 million Americans did tune in.

The Nielsen Company said Saturday that Danny Boyle's London opener was the most-watched opening ceremony of any summer or winter Olympics, according to the Associated Press. It took the top spot from Atlanta's 1996 Games, which had 39.8 million viewers for its opening ceremony, and Beijing's opener four years ago, with 34.9 million Americans watching.

More from GlobalPost: 2012 London Olympics coverage

Commentary from NBC's Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira probably wasn't what kept people watching this year's Olympics kick-off. It could have been, however, Queen Elizabeth II jumping out of a plane with Daniel Craig (a.k.a. James Bond) to enter the opening ceremony. Or maybe it was Mr. Bean (actor Rowan Atkinson) lending a helping finger during an orchestral rendition of "Chariots of Fire." There were so many weird moments in the most-watched opening ceremony that GlobalPost compiled a top 10 list.

But whether or not viewers enjoyed it, the Olympics opener sure did get people talking. According to Asbury Park Press, research company Bluefin Labs said an estimated 5 million comments about the opening ceremony were made on social media (GlobalPost even has a top 5 list of some of Twitter's best). And it was women who did most of the talking, with 58 percent of the comments coming from the female population, and only 42 percent of comments coming from men.

APP also said London's opening ceremony was the most-watched television event in the US since the winter, when 39.9 million people watched the Grammy Awards and 39.3 saw the Oscars.

NBC broke one more record, thanks to the opening ceremony. The TV station and all of its sister companies that make up set the record for single-event advertising sales last night, taking in $1 billion, according to RapidTVNews. NBCU sold around $850 million for the 2008 Beijing Games.