Phelps' Eighth Gold Gives NBC Its Best Saturday In 18 Years

NBC's Beijing Olympics' highly touted swimming event arrived as promised--with a big wave of viewers.

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.



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