Channel Seven achieved "historic record-breaking Olympics ratings triumph" during the 17-day summer games held in Sydney 2000. The network paid $75 million to secure the Australian TV rights to the Olympics and in the first 8 days of its coverage of the games, Seven reached over 16,349,000 viewers. The Olympic closing ceremony attracted 74% of households with TV sets was the most watched program in the history of Australian television at that time.
Although the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana attracted 82% of the households, the telecast was shown across four channels. The Olympic opening ceremony attracted peak audience of 10,436,000 viewers according to AC Nielsen ratings. Cathy Freeman won gold in the women's 400-metres athletics and Ian Thorpe winning silver in the men's 200-metres freestyle achieved the biggest Top 6 ratings in Melbourne. Nationally, channel Seven took the top 28 spots in the TV rankings during the 2000 Olympics.
Of the 40 weeks of TV ratings in 2000, channel Seven won 4 weeks of ratings before, during and immediately after the Olympics. It was understood the ratings from the 2000 Olympics were higher than internal forecasts. Rob Temple of Seven remarked, "One of our objectives was to over-deliver on all advertisers' expectations. If (Seven) had overpromised and underdelivered, they would have been paying back advertisers between now (September) and Christmas (2000)." The official partners of the Sydney 2000 Olympics were AMP, Telstra, Westpac and Pacific Dunlop.
Chris O'Mara of Seven made the comment after the 2000 Olympics, "You've got people watching TV in numbers that are unheard of, and it won't be sustained at that level. We intend to be competitive. Our opposition is going to throw everything at us. I won't sit here and put numbers on it but I expect us to do very well (after the Olympics). What we are trying to do is maximise the opportunities created by the Olympics. People will return to their viewing habits. We have to make sure the shows they have in front of them are the ones they want to watch."
Russell Norton-Old of Optimum Media Direction added, "The clock starts ticking the first day after the Olympics in terms of winning their viewers back. Whether you get used to the news ... or it heightens people's preference, I don't know, but the fact is, there's little reason to tune away from Seven at the moment (after the Sydney 2000 Olympics)."
During the 2000 Olympics, Pam Lane of Zenith Media enthused, "The people at channel Seven should be over the moon. Everyone expected huge ratings, but these are the biggest we've ever seen. These are celebration ratings, they're incredible. But it won't be a surprise to see more tantalising ratings of this nature. I think they are an indication of the sort of enormous figures we can expect for the Cathy Freeman race, and other events which feature Susie O’Neill, Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett. Despite the existing rivalries, the other stations would be delighted, too. I think they'd be congratulating Seven, in the true spirit of the Olympic Games. They (the advertisers) would all be very happy with the results because this sort of exposure is priceless."
One industry leader told 'Fairfax Media' after the Games, "There is a bubble effect with any Olympic or Commonwealth Games. The network showing them records a tremendous increase in ratings for about three weeks. But after every Olympic Games or Commonwealth Games, the ratings return to normal within a week or so, sometimes sooner. Viewers return to their old habits, their old favorites.
"Seven, of course, will milk the Games for everything it can. They will be promoting their post-Olympics schedule at every opportunity. For example, I hear they will show the movie 'Titanic' soon after the Games. But we have seen in the past that even attempts to virtually relaunch a network during the Games, with a new logo or jingles, revised schedules, even new programs and blockbuster movies, have not worked. Seven has come second to Nine virtually since the late '70s, and it will be back in second place by mid-October (2000)."
According to the Australian Olympic Committee website, the 2000 Sydney Olympics "set the benchmark of how future Olympics would be measured by staging what IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch ultimately described as 'the best Olympic Games ever.' … The athletes were the star performers of one of the happiest moments in Australian history. It will long remain a golden Games for Australia."
Daniel Lane reported in 2015, "It started a party no one wanted to end … That fortnight in Sydney 15 years ago was probably the world's last great celebration of youth and innocence…" John Thompson of ABC reported in 2010, "It was a moment or rather 17 days suspended in time … It was a more innocent time … One of the big concerns in the lead up to the Games was whether the transport system would cope with the huge deluge of visitors expected to descend on Sydney. To the pleasant surprise of many the trains, buses and ferries ran without a hitch.
"We were also desperately keen to please the then Olympic supremo, Juan Antonio Samaranch; to hear him say that these were 'the best games ever'. And he did. The planning and delivery were widely regarded as exemplary … Today (in 2010), we don't have to describe where Australia is, explain who we are or justify what we're about - and that money can't buy."