Ina Fried

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Clearly, Tape Delay Isn’t Hurting NBC’s Olympics Ratings

While NBC has gotten lots of flak for tape-delaying the Olympics opening ceremony and key events for its primetime coverage, its decisions appear not to have hurt ratings.

The network said on Sunday that ratings for the opening night of competition were its best ever. With 28.7 million average viewers for its evening coverage, NBC said it had nearly five million more people watching than for the Beijing games and two million more than for the 1996 Atlanta games, the prior best.

Among the markets it tracks, NBC said Salt Lake City, San Diego, Calif., and Kansas City saw the highest ratings.

Some of those viewers were clearly the disgruntled ones that learned of the results via Twitter — or even from “NBC Nightly News,” which gave all the key results ahead of the primetime coverage — but watched the coverage, nonetheless.

NBC’s decision to delay the opening ceremony also came under fire, but nonetheless drew in tons of primetime viewers.

Plus, unlike in past games, NBC is offering the ability to watch every event live online and on mobile devices, for those that don’t want to wait.

As for that streaming, NBC told AllThingsD that it delivered 7 million live streams and 13.2 million total streams on Saturday. It delivered 943,000 streams of Saturday’s swimming session alone.

In Beijing for the first day, NBC served up 1.6 million live streams and 5.2 million streams in total.

The peacock network said that ratings for its daytime and late-night coverage also soared, though the initial coverage has come on a weekend, meaning more people were off work to watch it.

Updated, 3:45 p.m. PT with Web streaming stats.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik