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Opening Ceremony draws biggest summer audience ever

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Olympics Fireworks
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UPDATE: NBC’s presentation of the Opening Ceremony scored gold in the ratings Friday night.

The nearly four-hour telecast from London delivered the biggest audience ever for a summer Olympic Games opener, according to Nielsen Media Research data.

NBC’s coverage delivered 40.7 million average viewers, topping the Atlanta Games and Beijing Games. “This audience number for the London Opening Ceremony is a great early sign that our strategy of driving people to watch NBC in primetime is working,” said NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus.

NBC’s previous early data put the telecast as the highest overnight ratings ever for a non-U.S. Opening Ceremony — summer or winter — but this national total is more accurate.

See EW.com’s Best and Worst Moments of the Opening Ceremonies gallery and our live blog. And here’s how Opening Ceremonies have stacked up in the past:

OPENING CEREMONY AVERAGE VIEWERS:

1. London – 2012 40.7 Million NBC

2. Atlanta – 1996 39.8 Million NBC

3. Beijing – 2008 34.9 Million NBC

4. Sydney – 2000 27.3 Million NBC

5. Athens – 2004 25.4 Million NBC

6. Seoul – 1988 22.7 Million NBC

7. Barcelona – 1992 21.6 Million NBC

NON-U.S. OPENING CEREMONY OVERNIGHT RATINGS:

1. London – 2012 23.0/40 NBC

2. Beijing – 2008 21.5/37 NBC

3. Lillehammer – 1994 21.0/34 CBS

4. Vancouver – 2010 20.0/33 NBC

5. Nagano – 1998 18.6/30 CBS

6. Sydney – 2000 18.5/32 NBC

7. Seoul – 1988 18.3/33 NBC

8. Athens – 2004 18.0/30 NBC

9. Sarajevo – 1984 17.2/27 ABC

10. Calgary – 1988 17.0/40 ABC

11. Barcelona – 1992 16.5/32 NBC

12. Albertville – 1992 16.0/26 CBS

13. Torino – 2006 14.7/23 NBC

OPENING CEREMONY OVERNIGHT RATINGS FOR U.S. GAMES:

1. Los Angeles – 1984 29.5/55 ABC

2. Salt Lake City – 2002 27.9/43 NBC

3. Atlanta – 1996 27.2/47 NBC

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