London Olympics opening ceremony lowest since OzTam ratings began

Nine’s Saturday morning broadcast of the opening ceremony of the London Olympics averaged 1.7m viewers according to preliminary overnight ratings. The numbers are the lowest Australian audience for an Olympic opening ceremony since the current OzTam system began in 1999.

Although a good result for a Saturday morning, the ratings were significantly down on previous Olympic opening ceremonies and the first to fail to garner an average metro audience above 2m.

Seven’s coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening rated 2.824m; while its 2004 Athens Olympics ceremony rated 483,000 for its 3.30am-7.30am broadcast and 2.304m on its afternoon rebroadcast.

In 2000, the Sydney Olympics opening ceremony rated 6.5m on Seven.

London 2012 is the first summer Olympics in recent years that Nine has the rights to broadcast.

The ceremony aired from just after 5.30am in the east. However, peak viewing for the show is likely to have risen above 2m by breakfast time. The preliminary ratings put a rerun of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air on Nine at 2.025m – however, Nine’s coverage overran, so this tiemslot was also occupied with the aftermath of the ceremony. (Update: Nine says its audience peaked at 2.667m)

Nine’s afternoon repeat of the ceremony rated 1.313m, while its early evening coverage rated 1.968m. The late night segment average 1.155m.

Nine argues that if you add together the viewing audiences of the live broadcast and the repeat, the net audience is larger than the live and repeated audience of Seven’s Athens event.

In a sign that there is a potential audience available for non-Olympic coverage, Seven’s Weekend Sunrise rated 259,000 despite the competition of the opening ceremony.

Seven’s top rating program on Saturday was Seven news which rated 1.013m. Ten’s was Ten News At Five with 455,000.

The Olympic broadcast did not even win the ratings week – the series final of Ten’s Masterchef averaged 2.2m on Wednesday night.


  1. Statto
    29 Jul 12
    11:34 am

  2. Can anyone take Oztam ratings seriously? Are they not just biased for 7, 9 and 10?

  3. Scott
    29 Jul 12
    11:43 am

  4. Do these figures include the HD simulcast on Gem?

  5. Scott
    29 Jul 12
    11:47 am

  6. In any case, it’s not a fair comparison, since Sydney 2000 and Beijing 2008 were both in favourable timezones. Getting up at 6am will not attract as wide an audience as primetime.

  7. Paula
    29 Jul 12
    11:52 am

  8. I wanted to watch the whole thing, but my PVR is broken and I slept in and started watching just before the athletes entered the arena.

    I also missed the replay, as I had no idea it was on.

    In a way I’m glad I missed most of it, because Eddie was so frustrating – and Leila wasnt much better. One of the commenters even mentioned to Leila check out the physique of a certain athlete – although it was said much cruder than that.

    I really missed the respect that the channel 7 coverage showed to the opening ceremony and The Story told during the ceremony. Eddie just jabbered incessantly.

    Does 9 have the rights to the 2016 games?

  9. mumbrella
    29 Jul 12
    12:29 pm

  10. Hi Scott,

    I’ve failed to find the exact broadcast time of the Athens ceremony, but it would have been similar. It may even have been an hour or two earlier as I know that Danny Boyle had to fight to move London as late as possible.

    (Update: Got those numbers now – and the story above had been updated with figures for Athens live and replay numbers)


    Tim – Mumbrella

  11. Guest
    29 Jul 12
    1:23 pm

  12. Comparing the Sydney Olympic Games to any other sporting event is not a fair comparison. Obviously more Australians are going to tune in to the Olympics if it’s in their country.

  13. Billy C
    29 Jul 12
    1:26 pm

  14. I watched the BBC coverage without the commentary. It was great.

  15. mumbrella
    29 Jul 12
    1:41 pm

  16. I agree that more people would tune into a home event, Guest. We’ve listed all of the Olympics since 1999. It would also be odd not to include Sydney on that list.


    Tim – Mumbrella

  17. haha-nielson
    29 Jul 12
    2:54 pm

  18. Blame the Chinese. 2008 was too good, everyone knows the British can’t do a better job.

  19. Statto
    29 Jul 12
    2:58 pm

  20. If Nine utilised their 2nd channel (Gem) and streamed something live on there (like the bike race, or the marathon etc), start to finish that would appeal.

    I cannot believe Nine have two channels and are playing the same coverage on both? What on earth are they thinking?

    It really bugs me how chop and change their broadcast goes. Why all the house ad’s? Couldnt they sell space to advertisers? if they couldn’t then show the Olympics, instead of rowing half way into a heat. Grrrrrr.

    Somebody at Nine needs to draw the line and tell Eddie to sit out. He is not a commentator. In fact when he commentates it is embarrassing. (It just further cements to me that his ego is larger than his sense.) “Eddie sit down and watch your own coverage – you are awful!”

    Nine need to put their own ego’s aside, try to become less of a club of plebs and start thinking about the audience who will come to Nine when they are honoured with providing coverage of a large sporting event like The Olympics.

    I know that they have paid for the rights, however it is their responsibility to out on a decent broadcast. I am awaiting the Facebook page and Twitter campaign to banish Nine from ever being able to buy the rights to an Olympics again. I will certainly like them and retweet them with gusto.

    One suggestion, which is not uncommon in a sales meeting, or when interviewing, to produce the best results when commentating is to shut the fck up ans let the noises and atmosphere soak through to the viewers.

    I gave it a go and am now going to be watching the rest of the Olympics online.

    (I don’t have Foxtel, which is my choice, however admittedly I might have to subscribe after this.) A question? Does Foxtel offer one off subscriptions for events like the Olympics? I do not have the need for a subscription for 12 months.

  21. Riley
    29 Jul 12
    3:14 pm

  22. That’s certainly surprising. I didn’t think it was a particularly good opening ceremony but most people seem to think it was brilliant, which makes the figures quite puzzling. Perhaps it was the fact it’s on Channel 9 and people were scared off?

  23. Janine
    29 Jul 12
    7:41 pm

  24. These are not the first summer Olympics nine has had the rights to.\.

  25. Me
    30 Jul 12
    9:11 am

  26. If commercial TV can’t deliver on the one type of content it’s supposed to still dominate, live sporting events, then it’s in big financial trouble.

    It’s in big financial trouble.

  27. Cameron
    30 Jul 12
    9:56 am

  28. Speaking of the Olympics, surely Dr Mumbo is going to go to town on the CommBank, “Can’t” adverts with James Magnusson? That ‘T’ character is making a lot of sense when he says stuff like, “You’ve been beta before… anything can happen…” Nostradamus-like, you could say. Which only highlights how bloody stupid the campaign was, as it relied on things going absolutely perfectly for it to make sense, and not look like a joke…!!!

  29. Rob R
    30 Jul 12
    10:03 am

  30. Shows how much respect 9 has for a daytime audience… Running Fresh Prince after the opening ceremony with that strong a lead in… Maybe if they’d run an official Olympic film (like Sydney) they might have held a few more… Or even ran the prime time Olympic special they ran earlier in the week, bugger all watched it the first time… Programming fail..

  31. Mr T
    30 Jul 12
    11:40 am

  32. “Words can’t describe how I feel,” a stunned Magnussen

    Oops, there is that pesky letter. Imagine an entire sponsorship campaign brought down by one insignificant letter ….

    Read more:

  33. Rob R
    30 Jul 12
    11:50 am

  34. Early call with the hating on the Comm bank ad, at least wait till he’s swims his individual race.

  35. Scott
    30 Jul 12
    12:01 pm

  36. “Nine argues that if you add together the viewing audiences of the live broadcast and the repeat, the net audience is larger than the live and repeated audience of Seven’s Athens event.”

    Well, exactly. Nine’s live and repeat broadcast of London 2012 was 3.0 million, compared with Seven’s 2.8 million for Athens 2004. The live broadcast alone was 1.7 million for London 2012 compared with a meagre 483,000 for Athens 2004.

    In either case, London beat the Athens broadcast figures so the headline “London Olympics opening ceremony lowest since OzTam ratings began” is plainly wrong. You can only reach that conclusion by comparing apples with oranges.

  37. Dan
    30 Jul 12
    12:08 pm

  38. I thought the opening ceremony was excellent, but Eddie and the other nine commentators added precisely nothing – in fact they detracted as they spoilt the Queen bit by reading from their cue cards too early. Surely commentary should be more than just reading (and sounding like they were reading) from prepared notes. Either give us a great insight or shut up – two things Eddie is incapable of.

  39. Dante
    30 Jul 12
    12:53 pm

  40. Thank God for Foxtel.

    8 channels showing everything, whereas 9 show hardly anything. Plus the Foxtel commentators are way less annoying.

  41. jean cave
    30 Jul 12
    1:40 pm

    Best bit of the ceremony.

  43. John Grono
    30 Jul 12
    3:58 pm

  44. Statto, the OzTAM ratings have a lot more gravitas than your ill-informed opinion. Do you SERIOUSLY think that advertisers and agencies would accept a ratings system that was biased and that they didn’t have serious input into? OzTAM is not only independently audited (and no, not by me) but also provides reams of reports and data to a Technical Research Committee (yes, which includes me) to verify their system.

    Foxtel have an upgrade option for the Olympics, but I can’t see them delivering and installing a STB for two weeks.

  45. Moi
    30 Jul 12
    4:56 pm

  46. If about 2m people viewed the opening it means that about 19m chose not to watch.

    This speaks volumes about the way Australians are turning to anything other than sport.

  47. John Grono
    30 Jul 12
    5:20 pm

  48. Moi, while I agfree that 19m chose to watch I think it probably speaks volumes about how many people were still asleep.

  49. Statto
    30 Jul 12
    5:35 pm

  50. @ John Grono

    Your response to Moi’s comment was superb! :)

    “Do you SERIOUSLY think that advertisers and agencies would accept a ratings system that was biased and that they didn’t have serious input into?”

    I would seriously think that agencies, with old fashioned traditional media business models, who would do all they can to continue charging clients exorbitant production costs for TV ad’s, would certainly want input to ensure that a glossy picture is painted about TV audiences. If that means agreeing wholeheartedly that Oztam stats are on the money or getting involved to ensure that the system is biased then I wouldn’t pout it past some agencies. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised.

    I am skeptical of the system and I am skeptical of the effectiveness of traditional television TV advertising in this ever so fragmented media landscape we now live in.

    It might be just me?

    Re OzTam: Are there any heavy agency hitters or traditional media owners involved with decision making?

  51. John Grono
    30 Jul 12
    8:21 pm

  52. Statto, it’s not just you. There are many pundits out there as skeptical as yourself. So here is some further background information.

    Yes there ARE ‘heavy hitters’ involved with OzTAM, both at the Board and the Technical Committee level. For example the MFA and AANA have representation on the OzTAM Board, while I sit with two other media agency people on the Technical Committee, where we receive and discuss the auditor’s report, as well as dicuss changes to the ratings system. These changes have included the introduction of the inclusion of time-shifted viewing,and under the leadership of Doug Peiffer we are currently working on ‘convergence’ homes where both traditional TV viewing and online viewing of broadcast TV will be measured. I also personally sit on all the other audience measurement system technical committees – e.g. online, readership, circulation, out-of-home, radio etc. so I can take a holistic view of measurement of audiences. (The measurement of ads and their effectiveness is a different issue).

    So, while the system is primarily funded by the commercial TV broadcasters there is strong representation and input from the government-funded TV channels, the subscription TV channels, the media agencies and the AANA None of these bodies would be willing to invest their research dollars into systems that are flawed and biased,, or that were not willing to work on solving the substantial research issues that rapid media fragmentation is throwing up.

  53. Statto
    30 Jul 12
    9:07 pm

  54. Thanks John, wow, quite a thorough set up then! Again, I just cant take the ratings that seriously and I am sure that you understand the complexities more then anyone. (It is the complexities that place doubt in my mind about how affective the ratings are.)

    – Flicking to other channels when ad breaks are on, making tea, going to the bathroom etc

    – The amount of monitor households that actually partake v the population of Oz

    – Having major influences on the board who make money from pitching expensive TV ad’s as solutions to their clients

    – Having influential broadcasters on the board who want to continue charging loads of coin for their advertising space

    I am not dismissing your good work at all and again I thank you for your in depth explanation! (Thought you might as well read my ten cents…)

  55. Rob R
    31 Jul 12
    6:21 am

  56. Yeah sport is dead.. Origin highest audience ever and Fox Sports getting a new record audience record for rugby world cup last year… Quick, everybody turn to arena before she blows…

  57. Moi
    2 Aug 12
    7:41 am

  58. Do statistics lie?

    No matter how you look at it, the percentage of Australians watching sport on TV continues to drop as the population rises. And if 90% elect NOT to watch the olympic opening, well … “Yeah sport is dead”.

    Welcome to the internet era.

  59. Rob R
    2 Aug 12
    9:01 am

  60. @ Moi I think you’ll find that of the programs on Foxtel in 2011 something like 80% of the top 100 were sport…. On FTA TV in 2011 – 8 of the top 20 programs were also sport. I expect that number will be even greater in 2012…
    Your argument is based on this statement of yours:
    “If about 2m people viewed the opening it means that about 19m chose not to watch. This speaks volumes about the way Australians are turning to anything other than sport.”
    1st: I think you’ll find that very few programs get over 2mil (single digits), so by your rational everything on TV is dead (there may be some credence to that but that’s about taste not if it has a heart beat or not).
    2nd: The numbers quoted only include the 5 capitals, not Newcastle, Canberra or any “regional” areas. You can probably add another mil at least to those numbers as country folks particularly like Sport and getting up early….
    3rd: The consolidated number of viewers was in fact 3mil greater than the comparable Athens by 200,000. So the audience has in fact grown in 8 years, something that things that are dying don’t tend to do…
    4th: Your right it is an “internet era” and what’s topics are most common trending? What websites are some of the most popular??
    All TV viewing is down in this age of multi screen, the one that is holding up best is Sport as people want to see it live and don’t download it as much. Ask any TV exec how important it is…. Game, Set & Match…

  61. Moi
    2 Aug 12
    11:36 am

  62. Overnight Ratings: Australia turns off Games
    On October 6, 2010, in TV News, TV Ratings ….

    The signs aren’t great for future coverage of the Commonwealth Games, with overnight ratings showing Australians just aren’t that interested.
    Overnight Ratings: The Rise of the Multi Channels
    On October 8, 2010, in TV News, TV Ratings ….

    With audiences not particularly interested in the Commonwealth Games this week, it seems viewers are becoming more and more adventurous with their remote and taste testing the new multi channels.
    Ten’s Commonwealth Games ratings fall below expectations
    Friday, 8 October 2010 | By Lowie

    The Ten Network could be faced with demands to compensate major advertisers, with audience figures for the Commonwealth Games falling well below expectations.

    This week, Ten has shed viewers rather than attract them to its prime time schedule of wall to wall coverage of the Commonwealth Games …
    Ten under fire over poor Commonwealth Games audience Peter Taylor From: Herald Sun October 08, 2010 7:55AM

    THE dramatic slump in Commonwealth Games television audiences could see Channel Ten emerge as the biggest loser, faced with demands for compensation from major advertisers.

    One media buyer — a broker who buys airtime or advertising space on behalf of advertisers — said Ten’s audience expectations were based on outdated precedents now that most viewers had a suite of digital channels to choose from without subscribing to pay television.

  63. Rob R
    2 Aug 12
    11:58 am

  64. Nice try Moi, quite apt you dig up Delhi 2010 to boost your crumbling argument. That’s like saying reality tv is dead because Renovators failed.. If you’d said the Comm games are dying I would have agreed but you said “Sport is dead”. Comm games are merely a very small part of the picture. . I notice you’ve chosen to ignore all my other points not to mention “statistics” that according to you “don’t lie”… Yawn…

  65. Rob R
    2 Aug 12
    12:05 pm

  66. John Grono
    2 Aug 12
    1:00 pm

  67. Statto, if you want to take this up via email (so we don’t bore the others shitless) you will find my email address on the MFA website or if you are on LinkedIn you can contact me there. Audience measurement is an arcane area of research which, like climate change, is oft misunderstood.