NBCU Rings Up Strong Final Tallies From Beijing


The Olympic flame has been doused and the youth of the world won’t unite again until 2010 in Vancouver, but NBC Universal provided strong Nielsen memories from its coverage of the Summer Games from Beijing.

NBCU’s various TV properties attracted 214 million who watched at least past of its 1400 hours of coverage from the 2008 Olympics, making it the most-viewed TV event in U.S. history. That viewership total was up 2.4% from the 209 million that tuned in the Atlanta Games in 1996 and up 5.4% from 203 million for the most recent Summer Games in Athens during 2004, according to Nielsen Media Research data.

NBC, including a 15.5 rating/24 share for the closing ceremony on Sunday night -- the best for that event for a non-U.S.-hosted Olympics since Montreal in 1976 --  averaged a 16.2/28 share and 27.7 million viewers for its 17 primetime telecasts. From a ratings perspective, Beijing brought the best rating since the 17.1/33 from Barcelona in 1992, while the viewership level was the most for the Games held outside the States since 1976 in Montreal.

All told, NBC averaged a 16.2/28 national rating and 27.7 million viewers for its 17 primetime telecasts of the Beijing Olympics, up 8% and 13%, respectively, over a 15.0/26 and 24.6 million average viewers for the '04 Athens Games. The 16.2 rating is the best for a non-U.S. Summer Games since a 17.1/33 for the '92 Barcelona Games, and the 27.7 million average viewers are the most for a non-U.S. Summer Olympics since the  Montreal Games.

Propelled by the Games including the opening ceremony on Aug. 8 and coverage the following evening, NBC said it became the first network in the almost 21-year history of Nielsen’s People Meter sample to win primetime for three straight weeks by margins of 211% or more in terms of total viewers and adults 18 to 49.  

In the process, NBC also set People Meter marks for the biggest margins over the combined major-network competition for three consecutive weeks, with wins of 24% or more over ABC, CBS and Fox combined for three straight weeks among 18 to 49s and 23% or more for total audience.

“This audience record is something I thought I'd never see again, but what really satisfied me is the way in which these Olympics truly captivated and seemed to inspire our country,” said Dick Ebersol, chairman, NBC Universal Sports & Olympics and executive producer of NBCU Beijing Olympics coverage.

The Beijing Games also played big online. NBCOlympic.com doubled the combined totals relative to page views and unique users for the Athens and 2006 Winter Games from Torino, Italy.

Beijing prompted 1.24 billion page views, versus 561.1 million for Athens and Torino, with the 2008 Games garnering 51.9 million unique users, compared with 25.2 million from the aforementioned Olympics.

There were 75.5 million video streams totaling 9.9 million hours from the Games in China, versus 10.8 million streams from Athens and Torino.