London 2012: NBC Nets Highest Rated Summer Olympics Opener in History

Olympics Main RR Image - P 2012
Getty Images

Olympics Main RR Image - P 2012

A tape delay and illegal internet streaming feeds didn't stop NBC from scoring two Olympic records on Friday night.

The network announced early Saturday that it had earned the highest rating for a non-US Olympics opening ceremony in television history, a 23 overnight rating and 40 share. That tops the previous high of 21.5/37 that tuned in for the 2008 summer games opener in Beijing.

The broadcast averaged 40.7 million viewers, which tops the 1996 Atlanta games (39.8) for the largest Summer Olympics opening ceremony in history. Beijing averaged 34.9 million.

PHOTOS: London 2012: Inside the Opening Ceremony

The London opening ceremony, directed to critical acclaim by Oscar-winner Danny Boyle, featured plenty of British cultural touchstones, including a skit featuring James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Queen Elizabeth II. That earned major plaudits, as did a segment with Mary Poppins and Harry Potter's Voldemort.

The event was the most watched event in Britain this year, with an audience of 22.4 million, and the highest-rated Olympics opener in at least two decades.

NBC's broadcast featured commentator Bob Costas' 12-second moment of silence in protest of the IOC's decision to deny the recognition of the 40th anniversary of the killing of 12 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Games.