How are we following the London Olympics? Let us count the ways. Network television. Cable television. Live online streaming. Sirius XM radio. 3-D. The Internet. Newspaper and magazine websites and blogs. Twitter. Facebook. You Tube. Mobile apps. There’s never been an Olympics with so much access. Now can we keep it up for over two weeks?
A record 40.7 million people watched Friday’s compelling opening ceremony on NBC. It topped the previous mark of 39.8 million people who watched the 1996 Atlanta Olympics begin, and the 34.9 million who watched the first night from Beijing four years ago.
NBC, which is streaming every event live for the first time, was criticized for airing the opening ceremony on tape in prime time. It was the right move as judged by the ratings. Really how many people would have preferred to watch the OC on their computers. It’s entertainment not a sports event with a result, and meant to be enjoyed with family and friends in big couches on a TV screen at night.
Top cities Friday night: 1. San Diego, 2. (tie) Washington, D.C. and West Palm Beach, Fla.
The five NBC nets — NBC, NBC Sports Network, MSNBC, CNBC and Bravo — combined for 58 hours on Saturday, the first full day of competition. Coverage began at 4 a.m. on NBCSN and at 5 a.m. (with swimming prelims) on NBC. We had all 5 TVs in the JoyHog command center going at once. It was a beautiful sight.
The main event on Saturday was the men’s 400 IM, and we followed Ryan Lochte’s gold-medal swim live at 2:30 p.m. NBC featured all the swimming finals in prime time — for the biggest audience. It’s going to be that way all during the Games. The beauty of NBC’s new policy of live streams is that you can have your cake and eat it too.
There’s no reason to watch the prime time telecast live. We taped it, and started watching at 9:30 p.m. after some baseball. We fast-forwarded through the commercials.