Swimmer Michael Phelps winning a historic eight gold medals gave the network a massive Nielsen Media Research 31.1 million viewers--the best Saturday night numbers for NBC in almost two decades. On February 24, 1990, NBC's "Empty Nest," starring Richard Mulligan, grabbed 31.4 million viewers.
The Saturday night prime-time show gave NBC a 17.6 rating/32 share among 18-49 viewers.
Through nine days, NBC has averaged a 17.4 rating/30 share among 18-49 viewers--the best for a Summer Olympics outside the U.S. since Barcelona in 1992, which took in an 18.6/35. The performance is 10% higher than the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, which earned a 15.8/28.
To date, the Beijing Olympics in prime time has averaged 30.1 million viewers--15% better than Athens, which averaged 26.2 million through the same time period.