Olympics Viewed by 200 Million in the United States

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August 19th, 2008

Two hundred million out of roughly 286 million have tuned in at least six minutes of Olympic coverage through 11 days, and 83% of all households in the United States have checked out at least some coverage.  This is well ahead of the pace of the 2004 games in Athens and is also even ahead of the 1996 games in Atlanta through 11 days.   The record for total reach is 209 million from the Atlanta games, and NBC certainly has a shot at that record.

Here's the full release from NBC (only two sub-heads this time!):


       83% of All U.S. TV Households Have Tuned In

       Most Dominant Primetime Week in People Meter History

       BEIJING -Aug. 19, 2008 -Through 11 days, NBCU's Olympic coverage has reached 200 million people and more than 83 percent of all U.S. television homes. It has also delivered the most dominant margins of victory for any network in any primetime week in the history of Nielsen's People Meter sample, which dates back 21 years to September 1987.

Through just 11 days, the networks of NBC Universal already have reached 200 million total viewers, 12 million more than the first 11 days for Athens (188 million) and 4 million more than the Atlanta Games (196 million), which was the most-viewed television event in U.S. history.  The 11-day total for these Games makes it the fourth most-viewed television event in U.S. history. Additionally, 94 million of the of the nation's 112.8 million television homes (83 percent) have tuned into the Olympics.


1. 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics, 209 million (17 days) 2. 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics, 204 million (16 days) 3. 2004 Athens Summer Olympics, 203 million (17 days) 4.  *2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, 200 million (*through 11 days) 5. 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics, 194 million (17 days)

NBC DOMINATES IN PRIMETIME: For the week of August 11-17, NBC generated more than four times the household rating of the No. 2 network, and more than five times the total viewers of the No. 2 network to claim the biggest week-long wins in those categories for any network since Nielsen initiated its current People Meter sample in September 1987.   

  • According to data provided by Nielsen Media Research, NBC averaged 28.7 million viewers overall and a 16.8 rating/28 share in households for the primetime week of August 11-17. Those averages were strong enough to deliver record margins over the week's No. 2 finishes of 463 percent in total viewers (28.7 million vs. CBS's 5.1 million) and 394 percent in households (16.8 vs. CBS's 3.4).  
  • NBC also beat the combined ABC-CBS-Fox results in these categories and again by margins that are the biggest for any network in People Meter history, 143 percent in total viewers (28.7 million vs. 11.8 million) and 113 percent in household rating (16.8 vs. 7.9).  

The Beijing Olympic 11-day average primetime viewership is 29.6 million, 13 percent ahead of Athens in 2004 (26.2 million).  NBC's average of a 17.2 rating, 30 share in households is the best through the second Monday for a Summer Olympics outside the U.S. since Barcelona in 1992 (18.4/35) and is a nine percent jump from Athens in 2004 (15.8/28). 

Monday night garnered 67 million total viewers in primetime and 26.4 million average viewers, a two percent gain from the comparable night in Athens (25.9 million). The night earned a 15.8 rating/26 share, which is off just four percent from Athens' comparable night  (16.4/27) which featured the USA's Jeremy Wariner's gold medal in the 400m.

TAMI FOR SUNDAY: The TAMi (Total Audience Measurement Index) measures the 3600 hours of programming during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, including Television (P2+ reach), Online (Unique Users), Mobile (WAP unique users and Mobile VOD unique users) and TV VOD (unique users).  Below is the TAMi measurement through Sunday, Aug. 17:

 Sunday, Aug. 17:  107.2 million

TV: 101.9 million, ONLINE: 4.8 million, MOBILE: 506k, TV VOD: n/a

  • Saturday, Aug. 16:      107.9 million
  • Friday, Aug. 15:  95.0 million
  • Thursday, Aug. 14:      101.4 million
  • Wednesday, Aug. 13:     100.9 million
  • Tuesday, Aug. 12: 105.0 million
  • Monday, Aug. 11:  103.1 million
  • Sunday, Aug. 10:  113.0 million
  • Saturday, Aug. 9: 97.8 million
  • Friday, Aug.  8:  74.6 million

NBC Universal, broadcasting its record 11th Olympics and surpassing ABC for the most Olympics broadcast by any network, is presenting an unprecedented 3,600 hours of Beijing Olympic Games coverage, the most ambitious single media project in history featuring the most live coverage (nearly 2,900 live hours in total), across the most platforms, of any Summer Olympics in history.

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