Good news for NBC.

The colorful Olympics opening night ceremony from Beijing on NBC averaged 34.2 million viewers, making it the biggest television event since the Super Bowl.

It was the biggest audience ever for an Olympic opening ceremony not held in the U.S., and even eclipsed this year’s Academy Awards and finale of “American Idol,” Nielsen Media Research said on Saturday.

The numbers were all the more impressive since it was a Friday night in August, when many people have better things to do than watch TV. If they do choose to watch TV, the number of options are growing year by year, meaning most television events typically go down in ratings.

The most recent summer Olympics, in Athens four years ago, averaged 25.4 million viewers for its first night, Nielsen said. Sydney in 2000 had 27.3 million viewers.

Advertisements