Closing Ceremony was highest rated since '76

NBC closed out its Olympics coverage in strong fashion Sunday as the final night of the Games continued the network’s dominance of the past two weeks.

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

The Closing Ceremony was the top rated of any Summer Olympics since Montreal in 1976.

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

These Beijing Olympics turned out to be the most-watched event in U.S. television history, with some 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.

“This audience record is something I thought I’d never see again,” said Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Universal Sports and Olympics.

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 rights to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.

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