Average number of viewers of the Summer Olympics opening ceremony in the United States from 1988 to 2016 (in millions)

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Number of viewers in millions
1988 (Seoul)22.69
1992 (Barcelona)21.61
1996 (Atlanta)39.77
2000 (Sydney)27.28
2004 (Athens)25.38
2008 (Beijing)34.9
2012 (London)40.7
2016 (Rio de Janeiro)26.5

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This timeline presents the average number of viewers of the Summer Olympic opening ceremony in the United States from 1988 to 2016. The 2012 opening ceremony had the highest U.S. viewership, with a total of about 40.7 million people.
Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony viewership – additional information

The opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro drew an average audience of 25.6 million viewers in the United States, a decrease of over 14 million viewers from the previous Games held in London in 2012. This meant that the U.S. TV ratings for the opening ceremony in Rio stood at 16.5, 4.5 lower than for the opening ceremony at London 2012. The highest opening ceremony ratings were seen during the two Olympic Games held in the United States, as the opening ceremony at the 1984 games in Los Angeles had a rating of 23.9 and the 1996 games in Atlanta earned a rating of 23.6.

The Rio Games also saw a decrease in the average number of primetime TV viewers in the United States, with an average of 27.5 million viewers tuning into the action in 2016, in comparison to 30.3 million during London 2012.

Despite the reduced viewing figures for the opening ceremony in Rio, the daily viewership numbers did increase throughout the Games, with a peak audience of over 33 million turning on NBC on August 9 to see the U.S. team win two gold medals in the pool and the U.S. women’s gymnastics team take gold in the Women’s Team Final. In contrast, only 16.85 million watched the Rio closing ceremony on NBC on August 21.

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Release date
August 2016
United States
Survey time period
1988 to 2016
Supplementary notes
Figures have been rounded.
Figures for the years 1988 to 2004 come from earlier publications.

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