If the ratings for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials are any indication, NBC is on track to put up some huge deliveries in London.
According to Nielsen fast national ratings, NBC on Sunday night drew a crowd with its coverage of the track and field, swimming, and women’s gymnastics trials, averaging 7.87 million viewers and a 2.3 rating in the adults 18-to-49 demo. By comparison, runner-up ABC averaged 4.74 million prime-time viewers and a 1.2 in the target demo.
The audience grew as the night wore on, with the track and field trials (5.69 million viewers/1.4 rating) setting the table for swimming (7.89 million viewers/2.2 rating). But it was the women’s gymnastics trials that really lit up the Nielsen boxes, as Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber established themselves as the heirs to Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin.
From 9 p.m. to 11:05 p.m. EDT, NBC averaged 10 million viewers and a 3.3 in the demo, marking the most-watched and highest-rated Olympic Trials broadcast since Aug. 20, 2000. What’s more, the 18-to-49 rating marked a 65 percent improvement versus the 2008 women’s gymnastics trials, which delivered a 2.0.
Ratings continued to rise throughout the two-hour program, peaking in the final half-hour with 10.2 million viewers and a 3.4 in the demo.
Joining Wieber and Douglas on the U.S. squad are McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman and Kyla Ross. Three alternates also were named to the team.
NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus last week said the prospect of topping the 2008 Olympics’ record deliveries is “an unlikely scenario.” And while the Beijing Games were an unqualified blockbuster, averaging 27.7 million viewers over 17 nights of prime-time deliveries, Sunday night’s results suggest that London could serve up even bigger numbers.
NBC’s presentation of the 2012 London Olympics begins July 27.