NBC's Olympic Ratings: Gold

Phelps' record-breaking swim is highlight of network's bonanza
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 20, 2008 2:02 PM CDT
Aaron Peirsol, left, and Michael Phelps wear medals after their victory.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – NBC’s Olympic coverage smashed the competition last week, in what Variety suggests could be the most decisive rout in television history. Viewership was buoyed by Michael Phelps’ record-breaking gold-medal performance Saturday; in addition, NBC’s various networks reached a staggering 83% of the US. The margins were the biggest in Nielsen ratings history.

NBC sucked most of the country into its Olympic coverage, with its prime-time coverage last week beating the next 12 networks combined. Audiences stayed up later to continue watching the popular swimming and gymnastics finals, though this week’s track-and-field-heavy slate could put a dent in the ratings bonanza.