Chicago takes 26th place in Olympic ratings race

London Olympics is the most watched event of all time

For seventeen days, we shared a moment with the world. Unfortunately, Chicagoans for the most part, chose not to.

Average household ratings are out for the entire 2012 London Summer Olympics, and it showed Chicago tied for 26th place with four other markets: New York, Phoenix, Knoxville, and Tulsa with an average household ratings of 18.2.

While the number is very good, Chicago Bears games – even those in December 2011 when the team was pretty much out of playoff contention – drew higher ratings. One of the factors of the rather depressed rating was many Chicagoans lost interest in the Summer Games after the city lost the bid to Rio for the 2016 Olympics.

Another factor is strong competition from baseball – particularly from the Chicago White Sox, who are currently in first place as of this writing. In New York (whose ratings can also be chalked up as a disappointment) faced stiff competition from Yankees games.

Despite the 18.2, both WNBC, WMAQ, and all 54 other stations with metered market overnight ratings won every night the Olympics were on, and saw ratings increases for its local newscasts.

The highest-ranked market on average was Salt Lake City (KSL, 25.0/45 ), followed by Kansas City (KSHB, 22.5/37) and Milwaukee (WTMJ, 22.3/37). Indianapolis (WTHR, 20.9/36) came in seventh, while Minneapolis (KARE, 19.9/38) finished thirteenth and St. Louis (KSDK, 19/32) finished 22nd.

Bringing up the rear not surprisingly, was Charlotte (WCNC, 13.9/24) and Raleigh (WNCN, 14.9/24). NBC has historically underperformed in these two North Carolina markets, as both stations had been on high-numbered UHF channels in the analog era (NBC had been on another UHF outlet in Raleigh until September 1995, when it affiliated with WNCN, a one-time NBC O&O. The station is now owned by Media General.)

Other undperforming markets in the Midwest include Cleveland, tied for 31st (WKYC, 18.1/30); Cincinnati, at 36th (WLWT, 17.7/30) Detroit, tied for 39th (WDIV, 17.3/29) and Dayton, tied for 52nd (WDTN, 15.8/26).

The Olympics had a halo effect for other NBCUniversal properties:

Even though Today was bested in the ratings in the last few weeks over ABC’s Good Morning America, it was a different story during the Olympics: Today scored its largest ratings victory over its rival GMA since February 2010, and the gap grew wider in the second Olympics.

NBCUniversal Television Distribution’s syndicated Access: Hollywood, which airs on most NBC-owned stations, scored its highest household rating (2.7) in four years, and was up 69 percent from a year ago.  Access‘ Billy Bush reported on celebrity happenings from London during the games.

NBC Nightly News‘ telecast from London with Brian Williams scored historic rating highs, beating its ABC and CBS competition in households and adults 25-54 demo. Nightly News drew an average of 10.9 million viewers during the first week of the Olympics.

And last but not least, the 2012 Summer Olympics games goes down as the most-watched television event in history, drawing 219 million viewers across all NBCUniversal networks, up from 215 million viewers from the Beijing games in 2008. The Closing Ceremonies Sunday night drew 31 million viewers, the most for a non-U.S. Olympics since the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal.

Updated 9:16 a.m. on 2012-08-16.