I have to admit I am a little surprised by these numbers:
NBC Universal’s Olympics coverage is drawing huge audiences, helped by the extravagant opening ceremony and swimming star Michael Phelps, and setting the stage for what could be record TV ratings for the Games. NBC Universal said the first two days of the Beijing Olympics drew an average audience of 29.1 million, making it the most highly rated broadcast of the Summer Games held outside the United States since 1976.
In total, 114 million viewers tuned in for at least part of its broadcast in the first two days, about 20 million more than the 2004 games in Athens, NBC said, citing figures from Nielsen Media Research.
Since NBC paid $900 million for the rights to broadcast these games I am sure a few executives are breaking a fairly large sigh of relief. And also, if you are actually watching the commercials it seems NBC is doing a stellar job of using the games to promote their upcoming fall television schedule.
Update: Via Advertising Age:
Buoyed by better-than-expected ratings performance, NBC Universal said it has sold an additional $25 million in advertising for the Beijing Olympics and it’s hard at work trying to sell another $5 million to $10 million. The network has already said it had secured around $1 billion in Olympics-related advertising from about 100 marketers.