Despite Tape Delay, NBC Breaks Records For Opening Ceremonies (UPDATED)

We were all told all day throughout social media, on Twitter and Facebook, and on various websites (even this one) that NBC was doing a disservice to sports fans (and fans of Kenneth Branagh, I guess) everywhere by airing the 2012 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremonies on a five-hour tape delay. They were downright ridiculed for it. All that said, it looks like NBC will be having the last laugh, all the way to the ratings bank.

NBC drew a 23.0/40 overnight (a number used to measure viewing levels in the top 56 markets) rating for the 2012 Opening Ceremonies, marking the best overnight ever for a non-U.S. hosted Olympics ever, topping even the stunning Beijing ceremonies just four years earlier by 7 percent (21.0/34). It also topped the most recent Opening Ceremonies, from 2010 in Vancouver (though rarely are Summer and Winter Olympics compared to one another) by a whopping 15 percent (20.0/33).

The rating makes last night's show the fourth-most watched Opening Ceremonies in history, behind only the three American games in Los Angeles (1984, 29.5/55), Salt Lake City (2002, 27.9/43) and Atlanta (27.2/47). The highest ratings around the country came from San Diego, Washington, and West Palm Beach. So much for tape delays hurting things.

UPDATE: NBC's coverage of the Opening Ceremony drew a record 40.7 million viewers, the most ever for the Summer Olympics ceremony. It drew more viewers than Beijing (34.9 million), Athens (25.4 million), Sidney (34.9 million) and even Atlanta (39.8 million). The final rating (21.0/37) was up 12 percent from Beijing (18.8/34) and up 44 percent from Athens (14.6/27). It was the best rating for a non-U.S. games (summer or winter) since Innsbruck in 1976.

10 Highest Rated Opening Ceremonies

1. Los Angeles - 1984: 29.5/55 (ABC)

2. Salt Lake City - 2002: 27.9/43 (NBC)

3. Atlanta - 1996: 27.2/47 (NBC)

4. London - 2012: 23.0/40 (NBC)

5. Beijing - 2008: 21.5/37 (NBC)

6. Lillehammer - 1994: 21.0/34 (CBS)

7. Vancouver - 2010: 20.0/33 (NBC)

8. Nagano - 1998: 18.6/30 (CBS)

9. Sydney - 2000: 18.5/32 (NBC)

10. Seoul - 1988: 18.3/33 (NBC)

Top 10 Local Markets For Opening Ceremonies

1. San Diego - 27.8/49

t2. Washington, West Palm Beach - 26.8/48

4. Salt Lake City - 26.6/50

5. Denver - 26.4/51

6. Norfolk - 26.3/42

7. Sacramento - 25.4/47

t8. Kansas City - 25.0/44

t8. Richmond - 25.0/41

10. Columbus - 24.9/43

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