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TV Ratings: Olympics Viewership Soars for Michael Phelps’ Final Event

UPDATED: Viewership of NBC’s Olympics coverage soared on Saturday as fans turned out for what might have been Michael Phelps’ final outing in an Olympic competition.

The swimmer, who now holds the all-time Olympic record for most individual gold medals with 13, helped Team USA take the gold in the men’s 100-meter relay, adding a 23rd overall gold medal to Phelps’ trophy case. Phelps, 31, has not confirmed whether he intends to compete in the 2020 summer games.

Viewership of NBC’s primetime coverage of the Rio games spiked to 25.5 million viewers, or a 16.4 household rating and 30 share, up more than a full point from the 15.5 household average for the games to date.

The crowd peaked at 32.7 million viewers, or a 20.4/36 household rating, from 10-10:15 p.m. ET, when Phelps was in the pool.

NBC’s total audience delivery rating encompassing NBC, cable and streaming viewing, reached 26.8 million for Saturday, which was still down from the comparable night at the 2012 London Olympics (28 million).

Phelps’ swan song (at least for Rio) also drove a spike in streaming viewing. NBC’s Olympics streaming sites have served up 2 billion streaming minutes since the games began — a big jump from the 1.5 billion minutes NBC reported on Saturday.

The top local markets for NBC’s primetime coverage were: Norfolk, Va. (18.4/31), Indianapolis (18.1/31), Denver (18.0/40), Ft. Myers, Fla. (18.0/30) and Columbus, Ohio (17.7/31).

Standout Athletes of the 2016 Rio Olympics

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