LOS ANGELES, July 28 NBC got off to a bumper
ratings start with its coverage of the London Olympics, despite
complaints from Americans that they had to wait hours to watch
TV coverage of the opening ceremony.
NBC said on Saturday that according to early ratings data,
its four-hour broadcast of Friday's whimsical and patriotic
opening ceremony earned the biggest U.S. TV audience for an
Olympics held outside U.S. soil.
The network, which tape-delayed TV footage of the ceremony
until its prime time evening hours, said Friday's audience was
about seven percent bigger than the 34.9 million who watched the
Beijing opening ceremony in 2008.
Precise figures are expected later on Saturday but audiences
were expected to be below those for the Olympics held in Los
Angeles and Atlanta.
NBCUniversal paid $1.18 billion for the U.S.
rights to the London Olympics. It is streaming all the sporting
events live online and boosting its TV coverage of the 2012
games to more than 5,500 hours.
But Americans took to Twitter in droves on Friday when they
realized that the London opening ceremony could not be seen
until some four hours after it finished in the British capital.
CNN talk show host Piers Morgan, who was tweeting details
about the ceremony from London, said on Friday: "Laughable that
America is yet to start watching the Olympic ceremony on TV.
NBC Sports spokesman Christopher McCloskey said the opening
ceremonies "are complex entertainment spectacles that do not
translate well online because they require context, which our
award-winning production team will provide for the large
prime-time audiences that gather together to watch them."
In a decision that caused controversy in Britain, NBC cut a
musical tribute from the opening ceremony for the victims of the
July 2005 extremist attacks in London buses and trains. Instead
the network showed a brief interview with Olympic champion
swimmer Michael Phelps by "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest.
NBC did not immediately return calls for comment on the