Olympics continue NBC ratings dominance

Last week's coverage most watched since 1996

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NBC is running out of ways to describe its stellar Olympics ratings.

During last week's Summer Games coverage, the network enjoyed the most-watched week in total viewers outside of the traditional broadcast season since the Atlanta Games in 1996. It also was the most dominant margin of primetime weekly victory in the history of Nielsen's People Meter ratings measurement. The seven nights of Beijing Olympics coverage took up the seven top rankings for the week in all key measures.

The network averaged 28.7 million viewers, with a 9.6 average among adults 18-49 (28 share). Even with the conclusion of Michael Phelps' successful quest to become the most-decorated Olympian in history, interest in the telecasts remained high, with Sunday night's coverage (28.2 million, 9.2/26) keeping pace with Athens four years ago. The coverage peaked Tuesday (34 million, 12.4/34), lifting the network to its highest primetime rating in the adult demo for any night since the 2004 "Friends" series finale. Saturday's conclusion to Phelps' medal run (31.6 million, 9.2/26) was the top-rated Saturday for the network since a "Golden Girls" episode in 1990.

Coming in second for the week, CBS was powered by repeats and "Big Brother," with the reality show managing to largely hold its own against NBC's Summer Games coverage (Tuesday: 6.4 million, 2.4/6). The network's programs took the top four spots below NBC's Olympics coverage in the adult demo.

With "So You Think You Can Dance" concluded, Fox placed third for the week led by animated repeats like "Family Guy" (3.5 million, 1.7/5). Fox's airings of preseason NFL matchups struggled against the Olympics -- and, in the case of Thursday's delayed game, a thunderstorm. Friday's Oakland at Tennessee game placed third for the night (3.5 million, 1.3/4).

ABC came in fourth, with "High School Musical" hitting a new low on Monday (2.2 million, 0.6/2) and "Wipeout" repeat leading its week (4.8 million, 1.8/5).

Overall, NBC (28.7 million, 9.6/28) led the way, followed by CBS (5.1 million, 1.3/4), Fox (3.2 million, 1.2/4), ABC (3.5 million, 1.1/3) and the CW network (1.5 million, 0.6/2).