With nearly 37 million watchers, NBC's coverage from the London Games triggered the most-watched Thursday night on any network since the Friends series finale.
NBC, whose August 3 coverage showcased Gabby Douglas soaring to the gold medal in the women's gymnastics all-around and Michael Phelps beating Ryan Lochte to win the 200 meter individual medley and adding to his record Olympic medal haul, averaged 36.8 million viewers, according to Nielsen data. The audience was the best since Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer and crew parted as buddies on NBC, back on May 6, 2004.
Running its skein to seven nights of beating results from Beijing and Athens Olympics in terms of both household rating and viewership head-to-head, NBC's Thursday-night telecast was 24% higher than the 29.7 million that watched the corresponding night at the 2008 Games and 16% greater than the 31.7 million viewers from the quadrennium in 2004.
Last night's primetime coverage on NBC from 8 p.m. to midnight (ET/PT) earned a 21.1/36 national rating/share, 18% and 9% higher than the first Thursday night from Beijing (17.9/31) and Athens (19.3/32), respectively.
With six nights from London surpassing the 30 million-viewer mark -- more than for all of the Beijing (5) or Athens (2) Olympics -- NBC's primetime average climbed to 35.1 million over the first seven nights of the 2012 Games, the most of any non-U.S. Summer Olympics since ABC's airing from Montreal in 1976. The 35.1 million is 15% higher and represents 4.5 million more viewers than Beijing's 30.6 million and 30% and 8.1 million more than Athens' 27 million.
The seven-night average household rating of 19.5/33 is the highest for any non-U.S. Summer Olympics through the first Thursday since the Montreal Games. The average rating is 10% above the 17.7/30 standard for Beijing and 20% greater than the 16/2/28 for Athens.