4.7 bil people watched Beijing Olympics

Games had a 94% audience reach in China

NEW YORK -- The Beijing Olympics attracted 4.7 billion viewers, or roughly 70% of Earth's population, from Aug. 8-24, making it the most-watched Games ever, according to data released Friday by Nielsen Media Research.

Beijing drew 21% more viewers than the 3.9 billion who followed the 2004 Athens Games, and 31% more viewers than the 3.6 billion who tuned in to the Sydney Games in 2000, Nielsen said in a statement released from its offices in Shanghai.

Data collected by Nielsen and its partners in 37 markets around the world shows that more than two in every three people on Earth watched television coverage of the Beijing Olympics.

China led the world's viewers with an audience reach of 94% of its population of 1.3 billion. South Korea's broadcast also reached 94% of its much smaller population of 49.2 million. Mexico followed with a 93% audience reach in a country of 110 million people.

Nielsen did not give figures for the percentage of the American audience reached by NBC, which spent $894 million for the U.S. broadcast rights to the Beijing Games.

Nielsen provided NBC with television ratings data for the Beijing Games. The high ratings were unprecedented.