Olympics 2008: Most Watched Event in TV History

August 25, 2008–NBC scored high in its Olympics coverage on Sunday, August 24, 2008, as the final night of the Games continued the network's dominance of the past two weeks. The Beijing Closing Ceremony was the top rated of any Summer Olympics since Montreal in 1976.

From 8-11 p.m., the Olympics drew a 20 rating/7.8 share in the 18-49 demo, according to Nielsen, with 26.3 million viewers tuning in. In some cities, the telecast was up 27% from the closing night of the 2004 Athens Games and 38% from Sydney in 2000.

NBC saw its $894 million investment pay off, with the network winning all 17 nights and taking home an estimated $1 billion in advertising revenue plus revenues racked up during the Games.

These Beijing Olympics turned out to be the most-watched event in U.S. TV history, with 214 million, about 11% more than the second-place Atlanta Olympics of 1996, tuning in to watch a least a portion of the Games. NBC Universal, via its broadcast, cable and online divisions, offered 3,600 hours of coverage.

Coverage averaged 27.7 million viewers per night and scored a 17-day rating of 16.2/28, a substantial increase over Athens.

NBC has also rights to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.