SochiOlympicsNBC__131021180345__140123184857__140127203358UPDATED: With NBC beginng its Olympics primetime coverage the day before the Opening Ceremony for the first time, the network and the Sochi Games literally kicked off yesterday on a slippery slope. Still, it went straight to the top, with the network pulling in an 11.8/18 overnight rating. That will easily make NBC tops for the night and is the best Thursday primetime result for the network since the 14.9/25 result of the NFL regular season opener on September 5, 2013. That Denver Bronco vs. Baltimore Ravens game was the best Thursday night average for any of the Big 4 OLY-2014-FREESTYLE-MOGULS-WOMENgoing back to NBC’s 2012 London Olympics coverage. Check out the Top 10 markets (yes, Denver is one of them) for the first day of Olympics coverage below.

There were no medals handed out, but NBC’s tape-delayed first day included coverage of the new Slopestyle snowboarding event (minus Shaun White), Freestyle Skiing, Figure Skating and some pointed political observations from primetime host Bob Costas. Because of the addition of a dozen new events, Sochi organizers stacked an extra day at the beginning of the Games to fit in all 98 events in 15 disciplines. Officially the Winter Games begins today and runs until the Closing Ceremony on February 23.

Related: Jay Leno’s ‘Tonight Show’ Farewell Hits 5-Year Ratings High

Taking us backed to charted territory, the formal Opening Ceremony extravaganza kicks off tonight at 7:30 PM on NBC. Overall, NBC’s planned 1,539 hours of coverage — more than Vancouver 2010 and Torino 2006 coverage put together — will air in various times on NBC, NBC Sports Network, USA, MSNBC, and CNBC.

Preliminary fast nationals show NBC’s 8-11 PM Olympics coverage won the gold medal for the night as the highest-rated (5.8/16) and most-watched (19.56 million) show. Ratingswise, those results are down 23% from the first day of competition of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics — but remember, unlike this year, those games saw their big-ticket Opening Ceremony occur the day before. NBC was the top-rated and most-watched of the night, with CBS getting the silver with a 2.5/7 rating and 10.41 million viewers. (UPDATE – In the final numbers, NBC’s Olympic coverage went up to a 6.0 rating)

American Idol (3.0/9) pulled off a bit of feat by holding steady with last week against the Sochi soft launch. However, Fox’s other show of the night, freshman Rake, continued its fall, now down 15% from last week to a low of 1.1/3. The Taste, ABC’s only original of the night, slipped 9% from its January 30 episode. A full slate of originals on CBS saw The Big Bang Theory (5.0/15) basically even with last week as the night’s second-highest-rated (5.0/15) and second-most-watched show (17.02 million). With that mega-lead-in, The Millers (2.7/18) bopped up 4% from its January 30 show while newbie The Crazy Ones (1.7/5) fell 11% and veteran Two And A Half Men (1.8/5) slide 10% to new series lows. With a 1.8/5, Elementary, ending the night for CBS, dipped 5% from last week’s airing. On the CW, The Vampire Diaries (0.9/3) took an 18% wallop from its January 30 show to tie a series low while Reign (0.6/2) was even with last week to also tie its series low.

Also check out the Top 10 metered-markets results for last night’s Olympics coverage on NBC here:

Top 10 Markets For XXII Olympic Winter Games Day 1
1) Minneapolis – 17.7 rating/29 share;
2) Indianapolis – 17.0/28
3) Kansas City – 16.1/25
4) Denver – 15.5/25
5) Oklahoma City – 15.3/22
6) Ft. Myers – 14.9/23
7) Salt Lake City – 14.8/27
8) Dayton – 14.7/22
9) Providence – 14.4/22
10) Milwaukee – 14.1/2

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