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29
2 YEARS

London 2012: Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte's Showdown Delay Doesn't Hurt Ratings

UPDATED: After getting flack for not airing the 400 IM live, NBC still sees a solid boost for primetime competition over Beijing, giving it the largest first night audience of a summer games on record.

London 2012 - Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte split
Getty Images

Spoilers did not discourage viewers on Saturday night.

After NBC received flack, and an unflattering hashtag (#NBCFail), for airing some of the London Olympic Games' biggest events on a delay, the first night of coverage still saw solid growth over the most recent summer games and topped all other non-U.S. Olympics.

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Overnight affiliate ratings give NBC's 8:30-11:30 p.m. ET/PT block a 15.8 rating, 29 share and 28.7 million viewers, up five million from the first day's competition of Beijing in 2008 -- despite both Eastern and Central U.S. time zones catching the first night's coverage from China live.

Easily the most talked about event of the night, Michael Phelps' failure to secure a medal against Ryan Lochte in the 400 IM helped push the first night up nine million from the 2004 Games in Athens. (Phelps' first of eight 2008 gold medals was won on the first night in Beijing.)

London is thus far topping all other non-U.S. summer and winter games, with the exception of the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding media circus that drove 1994's Lillehammer competition to record numbers.

Factoring in Friday's opening ceremonies, NBC's primetime Olympic coverage is averaging 35.6 million.