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Sunday's Coverage Draws About 107 Million

Report from television columnist Lisa de Moraes:

About 107 million people in the U.S. sampled the first Sunday of the Beijing Games across all of the NBC Universal broadcast and cable networks -- the most sampled first Sunday in Summer Olympics history.

That includes 81 million who checked out NBC broadcast network alone during Sunday primetime. NBC was the go-to network Sunday to see Michael Phelps and his teammates winning his second gold medal of these Games and his eighth career Olympic gold medal in the 4x100 freestyle relay.

Meanwhile, more than 1 million video streams of Sunday's USA swimming gold medal relay accessed at NBCOlympics.com suggests the two information sources are mutually supporting each other rather than cannibalizing the audience.

For the record books, the NBC broadcast network averaged about 30.4 million viewers in primetime Sunday -- actually from 7-11:45 p.m. that night. That's the best primetime average audience through the first Sunday for a non-U.S. Summer Games since Montreal in 1976, when the words "audience fragmentation" had not yet become the most feared phrase in the executive suites of the broadcast networks.

Time for the NBC Fine Print: The 107 million viewers who sampled the Games on one of the NBC Universal Networks -- NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, Oxygen (yes, really), etc. -- and the 81 million who checked out the NBC broadcast network in primetime Sunday are "reach" figures and measure anyone who watched as little as six minutes of a telecast. These are of great bragging interest to the network presenting big-ticket programs like the Olympics; they're also of enormous interest to advertisers. Conventional wisdom says anyone who watches 6 minutes of a telecast probably was subjected to an ad break.

The 30.4 million who watched NBC is the "average audience" meaning the average watching each minute. That's the standard that's typically used to discuss programming on television.

By washingtonpost.com Sports Editor  |  August 11, 2008; 6:04 PM ET
Categories:  Television  
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