MAGNA has released an extensive analysis of the 2008 Summer Olympics, including breaking
out ratings by sport, event segment, and commercial pod (national and local) for every
primetime telecast. Here are some interesting tidbits:
The 3600 hours of coverage (1600 on television) by NBCU represented more hours than all
previous Summer Olympics combined.
The 12-hour time difference between Beijing and the U.S., actually enabled NBC to show
about 70 percent of the major primetime events live (an event taking place at 10am in
China, was shown at 10pm (EST) on NBC).
The Summer Olympics typically increase primetime TV viewership to levels above normal
3rd Quarter usage. Compared to the period before the 2008 Games began, household
TV usage grew by 7 percent, while adult 18-49 usage increased 12 percent. The adult
bump was slightly higher than it was during the 2004 Athens Olympics due to increased
interest among men.
The eight highest rated sports among adults 18-49 during the Summer Olympics were:
1. Women’s Gymnastics All-Around (USA)
2. Women’s Gymnastics Finals
3. Men’s Swimming Finals
4. Women’s Swimming Prelims
5. Women’s Swimming Finals
6. Men’s Swimming Prelims
7. Women’s Gymnastics All-Around (non-USA)
8. Men’s Track Finals
My Own Worst Enemy was the most heavily promoted show during the Games. Promos
for America’s Toughest Jobs and Sunday Night Football also appeared frequently
(particularly during the second week), likely because their seasons were set to begin
soon after the Olympics ended. Heroes and America’s Got Talent were the most heavily
promoted returning series.
There's a huge amount of interesting facts like these in the report, you can download it here.