Washington, August 27 : NBC's round-the-clock coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics has been declared the most watched event in U.S. TV history.
Statistics released by Nielsen Media Research show that the coverage reached 214 million viewers.
The study also revealed that Michael Phelps' acquisition of a record eight gold medals, the triumph of the itty-bitty Chinese women's gymnastics team and the U.S. "Redeem Team's" total domination over all comers in basketball helped the Beijing games surpass the previously most-watched event of all time-the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
While the Beijing games blew the Atlanta Olympics by 5 million viewers, it surpassed Athens by 11 million.
"This audience record is something I thought I'd never see again, but what really satisfied me is the way in which these Olympics truly captivated and seemed to inspire our country," E!online quoted Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Universal Sports and Olympics and executive producer of the network's Olympics coverage, as saying.
"For me, the greatest measure of success at an Olympics is the number of messages I receive from parents of young kids who have fallen in love with the Olympics. That child means more to me than anything because I think a love affair with the Olympics is the greatest in all of sports," he added.
However, the study also revealed that the closing ceremony in Atlanta attracted more viewers (34.1 million) than Sunday's finale (27.8 million).