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London 2012 Games Set A Viewership Record, At 219.4 Million


By Bill Chappell

Monday, August 13, 2012

It's nearly time to extinguish The Torch, and end NPR's little marathon of Olympic coverage. Before we do, we must note that the games have now become the most-watched television event in U.S. history, with a total of 219.4 viewers over 17 days of coverage.

Those high ratings push the London Games past Beijing 2008, which held the previous record of 215 million viewers. The number seems to include only NBC's TV audience, not mobile or online.

The high ratings came despite vocal critics of NBC's coverage, and its decision to time-delay its broadcast of some of the Olympics' biggest events instead of covering them live on television.

The network provided online streaming of all but one event — the opening ceremony — but many U.S. viewers have been angry that the online stream from NBC, which is owned by cable giant Comcast, required a subscription to cable or satellite TV.

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