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NBC Ratings Spike During Michael Phelps’ Final Olympic Swim

Off to a slower start than London games, Rio Olympics viewership starts to heat up

While ratings for the Rio Olympics are down overall compared with the 2012 London games, viewers were decidedly glued to their screens as Michael Phelps took his final Olympic swim.

NBC dominated primetime on Saturday, attracting 26.8 million viewers, earning a 15.0 rating. That’s up by 14 percent from the games’ opening Saturday last week. (See the chart below.)

NBC earned an 8.0 primetime rating in the coveted demographic of adults aged 18 to 49.  That’s five times the combined rating of the other Big 4 networks (1.6 on ABC, CBS and Fox) — and counts as the largest advantage in the first nine days of any Olympics on record, according to NBC.

Viewership peaked on NBC last night from 10-10:15 p.m. ET/PT, reaching 32.7 million viewers during Michael Phelps’ final race, for which he won another gold medal in the 4x100m medley relay.

NBCSN averaged 967,000 viewers on Saturday in primetime for coverage featuring the Brazil-Colombia men’s soccer game.

Golf Channel’s afternoon Olympic men’s golf coverage was up 336 percent among average viewers vs. the same Saturday in 2012 opposite London Olympics (967,000 average viewers, Noon-3:27 p.m. ET).

NBC Olympics through Friday has surpassed 2 billion streaming minutes on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app.

Here’s a breakdown, provided by NBC, comparing London Olympics ratings to Rio’s:

Day Rio 2016 London 2012* Rio 2016 London 2012*
1st Sat. 23.5 million 28.7 million 13.0 rating 15.8 rating
1st Sun. 31.8 million 36.0 million 17.3 rating 19.8 rating
1st Mon. 31.5 million 31.6 million 18.1 rating 18.0 rating
1st Tues 36.1 million 38.7 million 20.5 rating 21.8 rating
1st Wed 28.6 million 30.8 million 16.5 rating 17.9 rating
1st Thurs 33.0 million 36.8 million 18.9 rating 21.1 rating
1st Friday 26.0 million 28.5 million 15.0 rating 16.2 rating
Mid. Sat. 26.8 million 28.0 million 15.0 rating 15.9 rating

*NBC pointed out that the 2012 London Olympics didn’t have  simultaneous live streaming or competing primetime Olympic cable coverage.