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Olympics Opening Attracts Record 40.7 Million Viewers for NBC

NBC’s telecast of the opening ceremony of the London Olympics drew the largest U.S. audience in history for the event, the Comcast Corp. network said.

NBC said in a news release that last night’s ceremony attracted an average of 40.7 million viewers, topping the previous record of 39.8 million for the start of the 1996 Games in Atlanta.

The telecast earned a 21 national rating, the best for a non-U.S. Summer Olympics and the second best for any non-U.S. Olympics since the Innsbruck Winter Games in 1976, which had a 23.2 rating, according to the network.

“This audience number for the London opening ceremony is a great early sign that our strategy of driving people to watch NBC in prime time is working,” Mark Lazarus, NBC Sports Group president, said in the release. “We look forward to the next 16 nights of compelling Olympic competition.”

NBC televised the ceremony in a tape-delayed prime-time show. Comcast is carrying all sports events from the London Games live on internet streams and its broadcast and cable TV outlets.

NBC paid about $1.18 billion for the U.S. television rights to the London Games. Brian Roberts, Comcast’s chairman, said yesterday in an interview with CNBC that NBC Universal will receive about $1.2 billion in total revenue from the Olympics, moving closer to breaking even on the games.

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