A record-setting start to the Summer Olympics paced NBC to a dominant victory over the competish last week — its best frame since Super Bowl week.
The Opening Ceremonies and first two nights of competition from London averaged 35.8 million viewers, according to Nielsen, the largest crowd for the first weekend of any Summer Games. Impressively, it outdrew Beijing from four years ago by more than 5 million viewers.
Among shows not set in London, top draws included NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” and Fox’s “MasterChef” and “Hell’s Kitchen,” with “Master” hitting a summer high. And on cable, USA’s “WWE Raw” drew its largest-ever audience as it celebrated its 1000th episode.
Overall for the week of July 23-29, NBC rolled with a 5.8 rating/17 share in adults 18-49 — besting the next five networks combined: Fox (1.4/4), Univision (1.3/4), CBS (1.1/3), ABC (1.0/3) and top cabler USA (0.9/2).
Similar dominance took place in total viewers, where NBC’s average aud of 19 million beat the combined deliveries of CBS (4.6 million), Fox (3.6 million), ABC (3.5 million), Univision (3.4 million) and USA (2.9 million).
For NBC, Friday’s Opening Ceremonies averaged a huge 12.2/38 in adults 18-49 and 40.65 million viewers overall, with the demo better than every non-football telecast of the last year with the exception of the Grammy Awards on CBS in February (14.1 rating).
Among series, “America’s Got Talent” went into the Olympics break on the soft side (2.7/8, 8.76m), though it still tied as the week’s No. 1 entertainment program in 18-49 and has now drawn more total viewers than any series for nine straight weeks.
Fox won early in the week, seeing its best numbers Monday for “Hell’s Kitchen” (2.6/8, 10.43m) and “MasterChef” (2.5/7, 6.08m), with the latter rising for the fourth straight week.
CBS was paced by “Big Brother” (2.2/7, 6.11m for Thursday’s hour), though it remains down from last year. And the net’s dating show “3” opened with a thud Sunday (0.5/1, 1.65m).
ABC had its best non-sports summer Thursday since June of last year with a two-hour “Wipeout” (2.2/7, 6.85m) and “Rookie Blue” (1.5/4, 5.66m), which both hit summer highs. Not so hot were rookies “The Glass House” (0.8/2, 2.18m) and “Trust Us With Your Life” (0.6/2, 1.92m), with the latter improv show axed over the weekend.
CW aired nine hours of repeats, yet its lone original (Tuesday drama “L.A. Complex”) was its least-watched show, with just 391,000 viewers; it actually drew a larger aud (540,000) for a Thursday encore.
On cable, “WWE Raw” celebrated its milestone by expanding to three hours and drawing 6.04 million viewers — its largest-ever audience. Its adults 25-54 viewership of 2.73 million also repped a high.
Also for USA, “Burn Notice” grew Thursday (1.4/4, 4.86m), ranking as basic cable’s top scripted series for the week in 18-49.
At TBS, Thursday comedy “Sullivan & Son” (0.9/3, 2.48m) retained virtually all of its premiere demo aud of the previous week and was the night’s top scripted cable original in women 18-34 (1.2/4).Sunday dramas “Breaking Bad” on AMC (1.1/3, 2.20m) and “Newsroom” on HBO (0.7/2, 1.74m) were down a bit. But not affected by the Olympics was HBO’s “True Blood” (2.7/7, 4.60m), which edged up and tied with NBC’s “Talent” and Fox’s “MasterChef” as the week’s top series draw in 18-49.
VH1’s “Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta” had another strong showing Monday (2.0/6 in 18-49, 3.54m), tying for 15th place in 18-49 for the week. It was also TV’s most-watched program for the week among African-Americans (3.05 million), even edging out the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics (3.00 million).