Quest for 10th medal draws audiences to NBC

Auds stayed up late to watch history Tuesday night, as NBC drew its biggest crowd since the Opening Ceremony for the night’s primetime action, driven by Michael Phelps’ record-setting performance.

An average estimated aud of roughly 40 million were tuned in during the 10 o’clock hour to watch Phelps capture the 200-meter butterfly and his 10th career Olympic gold medal. And that aud swelled post-primetime, hitting 41.2 million in the 11 o’clock half-hour, which featured women’s gymnastics and another Phelps gold medal, this one as part of a relay team.

For the duration of its coverage Tuesday (8 p.m. to 12:19 a.m.), NBC averaged a 12.4 rating/34 share in adults 18-49 — the best for any night in these Games thus far, including the Opening Ceremony. In total viewers, it came in a bit below the 34.89 million for the opening-night event.

Tuesday’s audience repped a 16% increase over Athens in 2004 (29.4 million) and is the best for a non-U.S. Summer Olympics since Barcelona in 1992. Through five nights, the Beijing Games are averaging 31.3 million, up a hefty 21% from Athens (25.8 million).

Meanwhile, traffic remains heavy on NBCOlympics.com, with the number of video streams through Tuesday for the Beijing Games (17.7 million) more than eight times those for the 2004 Athens Games (2.2 million). The number of unique viewers online (21.1 million) is nearly double the 11.1 million for Athens.

The Olympics towered over everything else in primetime, with CBS’ “Big Brother” the closest pursuer in adults 18-49 (2.4/6) and a repeat of CBS’ “NCIS” tops among non-Olympics programming in total viewers (7.22 million).

Unlike other cable hits to have shrunk opposite the Games, ABC Family’s “Secret Life of the American Teenager” (1.3/4, 3.70m) held up very well. Though down in teens week to week, it was up in adults 18-34 to a series high (1.8/6).

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