TV Ratings: Olympic Competition Opens With 19.5M Viewers, Still Down From London

Olympics Day 1 Maha Amer of Egypt H 2016
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Two nights in, NBC's coverage of the 2016 Rio Olympics remains a dominant ratings force. A Saturday night hasn't seen a broadcast network score such highs since, well, the last Olympics.

But Friday's dips for the Opening Ceremony were not a one-off.

Among total viewers, the primetime showing for Saturday's kickoff of competition coverage dropped 32 percent from the last Summer Games. An average 19.5 million viewers watched between 8 and 11 p.m. Four years ago, London was setting records with 28.7 million viewers during the same time period.

In the key demographic of adults 18-49, NBC averaged a 5.5 rating. That's off 37 percent from the first night of competition during the 2012 London Games. To be fair, marquee U.S. talent (like swimmers Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps) went head-to-head on that night.

Both numbers will see some adjustment, likely upward, when final tallies for complete coverage come in from Nielsen and the network.

It will be some time before it's clear how much of a lift NBC is getting from streaming, but early indicators (i.e. data released from coverage of the Opening Ceremony) also have online views up considerably this Olympics.