The Olympics

Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics Draws 28.3 Million Viewers

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Credit: Intel

NBC's tape-delayed broadcast of the opening ceremony for the 2018 Winter Olympics put up predictably huge numbers Friday night, as some 28.3 million viewers took in the PyeongChang spectacle.

According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, NBC's coverage of the three-hour celebration averaged 27.8 million broadcast TV viewers, while streams of the event on and the NBC Sports app accounted for an average-minute audience of an additional 449,000 spectators.

Overall deliveries for the ceremony were down 11 percent compared to the analogous broadcast in 2014 (the Sochi opener averaged 31.7 million viewers) and slipped 12 percent versus the 32.7 million viewers NBC drew during its live presentation of the 2010 table-setter in Vancouver. That said, the PyeongChang ceremony did manage to beat out the 2008 ceremony in Torino (22.2 million) by 27 percent.

Linear TV deliveries for Friday night's opening ceremony peaked at 31.5 million viewers between 9 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. EST, coinciding with when Team USA made its entrance during the Parade of Nations.

Eight of the top 10 markets that tuned in the ceremony are situated in the Mountain or Pacific time zones. The only representatives of the Eastern time zone in the top 10 were the decidedly non-wintry West Palm Beach (No. 9) and the below-freezing Buffalo DMA (No. 10). As it happens, sports-mad Buffalo was the top-rated media market during NBC's coverage of Super Bowl LII.

Featuring a pre-recorded Intel drone light show, a gargantuan human-faced bird puppet and cameo appearances by Vice President Mike Pence and Kim Jong-un's younger sister, Kim Yo-jung, the NBC broadcast averaged a 14.7 household rating. By way of comparison, that rating topped 46 of the NFL's 47 regular-season national TV windows, as well as six of the seven 2017 World Series broadcasts and all five of the 2017 NBA Finals games.

The Nielsen data does not include ratings for out-of-home viewership, although those numbers are expected to be made available early next week. For the most part, the number of people who tune in to the 2018 Winter Games from their local watering holes, restaurants, gyms and other public venues won't play a part in NBC's efforts to meet its ratings guarantees to advertisers. Per an NBC Sports spokesman, the fresh-off-the-shelf OOH metric factors into "only a small number of [NBC's] agreements," although the network anticipates it will play a bigger role in future Olympics and other big-reach sporting events.

Among the biggest spenders in Friday night's broadcast were Apple Watch, Coca-Cola, Chevrolet, Samsung Galaxy, Toyota, Visa and Ford, according to estimates. As for the inventory that wasn't up for sale, NBC devoted a number of spots to promote its upcoming series "Rise" and "Good Girls," as well as its April 1 presentation of the live musical "Jesus Christ Superstar." Other in-house promos hyped returning favorite "The Voice," the "Today" show and the Olympics themselves.

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