Last night’s NBC‘s primetime broadcast of the London Olympics featured featured Michael Phelps’ 22nd Olympic medal (gold in the 4×100-meter individual medley), drew 28.0 million viewers, the lowest to date for the current Games. Viewership was off 11.4% from the comparable night at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing (31.6 million). NBC noted that particular night included live coverage of Phelps winning his record eighth gold medal of the Beijing Games and Dara Torres at age 41 winning a silver medal in the 50-meter freestyle. That same night in Beijing also covered Usain Bolt’s record-setting gold medal in the 100-meter. NBC’s primetime Olympics coverage (8:30-11:15 p.m. ET/PT) earned a 15.9/26 national rating/share, 17% higher than the comparable night at the 2004 Athens Olympics (13.6/28), the last European Olympics, but down from the comparable night in Beijing (17.8/32), the fourth highest-rated night of competition for those Games. Last night’s viewership was 24% higher than the comparable night at the 2004 Athens Olympics (22.5 million).
Through the first nine days, NBC’s coverage of the London Summer Olympics has reached nearly 195 million total viewers, averaging 33.9 million nightly primetime viewers and a household rating of 18.9/32. If the trend continues, the London Games is expected to become the most-watched event in U.S. television history, surpassing the high of 215 million viewers that tuned in for the Beijing Olympics. The 195 million total viewers is nearly 18 million more than Athens through the same period (176.9 million).